Russian agents hacked OPCW a week after Douma attack


Dutch authorities disclosed on Thursday how - with the help of United Kingdom intelligence - they thwarted an attempted cyber attack on the headquarters of the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) in The Hague.

In scenes reminiscent of a Cold War spy novel, Dutch security services said they had expelled four Russian GRU agents in April after they attempted a cyber-attack on the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, from a vehicle parked in a nearby hotel.

At the time the Russian operation was disrupted, the OPCW was investigating the Skripal case as well as an alleged chemical attack in April on the Syrian town of Douma near Damascus by Russian-backed government forces, the MIVD said. A large antenna was sitting on top of the equipment, which was on and running, using a battery that had been placed in the trunk.

The NCSC said it was "almost certainly" the GRU behind a "BadRabbit" attack in October 2017 that caused disruption to the Kiev metro, Odessa airport and Russia's central bank, and Britain's cyber security chiefs say they have "high confidence" Russian intelligence was responsible for a strike on WADA in August 2017. "Our exposure of this Russian operation is intended as an unambiguous message that the Russian Federation must refrain from such actions".

"We are increasing the cost to Russian Federation", he said.

A laptop belonging to one of the four was linked to Brazil, Switzerland and Malaysia. Dutch officials say the gear was used to intrude on WiFi networks.

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The hackers leaked medical information and emails stolen from officials from 40 anti-doping and sporting organizations.

Hackers from the military intelligence group GRU are said to be behind the online campaign, which spans several years and includes the hacking of the 2016 Democratic National Committee. The Justice Department is reportedly preparing to release information about its own operation around 9:30 a.m. ET.

Hunt said some of the hacking serves "no legitimate national security interest" for Russian Federation.

He said the Government would now be entering into discussions with allies on what new sanctions could be imposed against the Kremlin.

"I think the global effort here will be successful in curbing some specific behaviour and may lead to major organisational changes within the Russian espionage apparatus", said Nick Carr, from cyber security firm FireEye's Advanced Practices team. At the time, the United Nations watchdog was investigating the poison used to attack an ex-spy in Britain and chemical weapons which the West says were used in Syria by Russia's ally President Bashar al-Assad.

In Ottawa, Andrew Leslie, parliamentary secretary to Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland, said: "I'm told that the Federal Bureau of Investigation has charged seven Russian agents with involvement in this process and that the RCMP are also involved and assisting".

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Citing the OPCW's mission of combating some of the world's most disgusting weapons, Wilson said Russia's attack reflects "complete disregard for this vital mission".

A British Whitehall official said that the 4 men were "caught in flagrante", and added the "technicolour" detail of the items found would be embarrassing to the Russians: "For a GRU operative to get caught with all that equipment would be seen by them as a pretty bad day".

Russian intelligence is accused of targeting the USA and world anti-doping agencies.

It was also active in Malaysia targeting authorities investigation the downing of flight MH17. Hours earlier, it had taken off from Amsterdam.

"These acts form part of a broader pattern of activities by the Russian government that lie well outside the bounds of appropriate behaviour, demonstrate a disregard for worldwide law and undermine the rules-based global order", it read.

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