back to article Notpetya, Olympics hacking, Novichok probe meddling... America throws the book at six alleged Kremlin hackers

Six men have been named as Russian military hackers and accused of spreading malware, disrupting the Olympics in retaliation for Russia's doping ban, and meddling with elections as well as probes into Novichok poisonings. Today, the US government claimed the alleged team of cyber-spies: Unleashed the file-scrambling …

  1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

    Jealous much ?

    "Gee, I wish we had one of them doomsday machines." - Said General "Buck" Turgidson in a canned statement

  2. NetBlackOps Bronze badge

    You can likely add Sweden's par;imentary email system to list.

  3. amanfromMars 1 Silver badge

    Is that the Pig Ignorant Game you wanna play?

    Can we now expect, thanks to the UKUSA set precedent, the occasional list of supposed British and American agents to be broadbandcast freely around the world, by anyone who would think themselves targeted by them? Is that incredibly smart or revealingly dumb and the best that a Five Eyes Corporation can do in the Extortionate Reality Distortion Disinformation Field? And just all that public facing government wonks following a script and spouting canned statements like a Raab or a Demers can do? Strewth! That all went downhill very quickly into the depths of despondent despair and international ridicule, didn't it.

    1. First Light Silver badge

      Re: Is that the Pig Ignorant Game you wanna play?

      What I took from the statement by the US Atty was that this behavior is disproportionate - it violates the gentlemen's agreement of spying, hacking etc. as being permissible but only in a *reasonable* manner and to a *reasonable* extent.

    2. Graham Cobb Silver badge

      Re: Is that the Pig Ignorant Game you wanna play?

      Never, ever, forget the prime directive of politics: "All politics is local".

      That even extends to international relations. I don't deny the truth of these findings. But these are government announcements: always look around - is anything happening in those countries at the moment? Would a distraction be welcome? Would "unity in the face of a common enemy" be useful to anyone in politics?

      "We've always been at war with Eastasia" - from the most prophetic book ever written.

  4. KBeee Silver badge

    I don't get this

    "The hackers also attacked broadcasters and a ski, it is claimed."

    They hacked a ski?

    1. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge

      Re: I don't get this

      That yoghurt was Russo-phobic I tell you!

    2. Woza

      Re: I don't get this

      They used a buffer downhillover run

      1. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge

        Re: I don't get this

        Stop. Now you're just taking the piste!

  5. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge

    The poor GRU

    The poor GRU must be awfully busy. When the Dutch police caught those 3 guys war-driving outside the OPCW HQ in the Hague they had a look on their computers and found that they'd also been in Geneva trying to hack into a Swiss WADA lab as well.

    Which seems a bit odd really. I mean, I can well understand deploying your nation's intelligence services when you've just fucked up murdering an ex-spy with massively illegal chemical weapons on foreign soil. While it doesn't exactly speak well of your morals, it shows a perfectly reasonable sense of proportion. But when you're also using the same team (always at high risk of exposure abroad) to try to hack into the World Anti-Doping Authority to try and cover-up your Olympic level cheating - that rather seems like a massive over-reaction. Particularly as covering it up at this point was pretty much impossible. You might be able to cast doubt on some of the tests being done at that lab, or even just get some embarrassing emails to leak and try to look a bit more like the victim of a nasty conspiracy. But by that point the cheating was just too well-documented to cover up.

    What I think the Russian government need is a nice cup of tea and sit down, with someone sympathetic to offer them a few biccies and tell them to calm the fuck down. Their problem seems to be that they want to be perceived as badass supervillains, at the same time they want to be liked and respected.

    1. First Light Silver badge

      Re: The poor GRU

      Who would sit down for tea with the Russians these days . . .

      need to check it for polonium first . . .

    2. amanfromMars 1 Silver badge

      Re: The poor GRU

      Surely, I aint Spartacus, that last paragraph of yours is bettered directed at Five Eyes governments. It certainly fits the situation you have painted and they have painted themselves into so much more comprehensively.

      Usually, whenever it is so easily cast as any number of beings being responsible, are they not solely guilty and be willing puppets of others more skilled in such ancient arts as are able to deceive and conceive and enable friends and foe alike.

      Indeed, further reading of your post might easily be construed as being directed against them and their risible reactions/very predictive opposition. Bravo. That's a great trick.

    3. naive Silver badge

      Re: The poor GRU

      The Russians probably think the West is a glorified James Bond movie and they just do their best on role playing.

      1. amanfromMars 1 Silver badge

        Re: The poor GRU

        The Russians probably think the West is a glorified James Bond movie and they just do their best on role playing. .... naive

        Probably. Is that naive of them? Does such create problems or present opportunities? What would a competent M or C think then to do? Anything worthy of movie stardom/Titanic Studious Productions?

        What could a Far Eastern Westernised Film Network do, Fritz Lang/Leni Riefenstahl Gangnam Style .... apart from create Madness and Mayhem and Havoc in CHAOSystems?

    4. c1ue

      Re: The poor GRU

      Novichok is so deadly that it doesn't seem to kill anyone but heroin junkies.

      1. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge

        Re: The poor GRU

        The problem with chemical weapons is that they're often deadly but hard to distribute. Plus, if they're being hand delivered, it's kind of obvious if there's the corpse of the guy who painted it on your door handle lying right there. Plus hard to recruit agents for your next assassination.

        Equally you can't be wearing a full NBC suit in order to deliver it covertly, as that's the kind of thing people might notice...

        So you either have to use it in low doses, or in such a way that it's slow-acting. Hence there's time for treatment with atropine.

        Notice that all the people who've been infected have been on life support for the next few weeks, other than the one that died. Plus they'll probably all have ongoing side-effects and I'd imagine shortened lives. The Russian guy who wrote a book back in the 90s about the Soviet Novichok program talked about one scientist who got unlucky. And said that he nearly died but never fully recovered and had nasty side effects for the rest of his life, which was only about 5 years.

        A lot of nerve agents work on suppressing cholinesterase - which is what the body uses to shut down nerves once they've fired. So untreated they kill you by causing increasing levels of muscle spasms as nerves keep on randomly firing and your nervous system breaks down and stops your heart and/or breathing.

        The life support is required because it takes the body time to flush the stuff out of its system, and it's not able to create more cholinesterase until that's happened, at which point it can regain control of the nervous system.

  6. Potemkine! Silver badge

    Russia is playing a stupid game by showing all its assets for such stupid pretexts of taking revenge because they were caught massively cheating in sports. It's like their bosses didn't read Sun Tsu. A good thing for us, the more we see the nasty things they can do, the more we will be prepared to counter them.

    On a side note, Kaspersky is less and less Russian and more and more Swiss

  7. EnviableOne Silver badge

    If in Doubt

    Blame the Russians.

  8. c1ue

    I would suggest everyone read the full indictment.

    A number of items are odd: [On or about December 11, 2017, the Conspirators created a malicious "Seoul Bus Tracker" mobile application and registered the mobile application with a mobile application store approximately 1 hour later.] with multiple other apps created and attempted distribution in a very short time frame. Pretty fast work. There is also mention of 15000 web sites defaced in late 2019 - they must be incredibly productive...

    Attribution is also interesting: is the "creation date" from just looking at file time stamps? Probably from the app application process?

    Then there's the attribution of "creation of components" for NetPetya, Olympic Destroyer etc. The actual charges relate to spearphishing and transmission - there is nothing in the indictment indicating the creation other than the allegation.

    The indictment does say that the NotPetya transmission component was via redirecting the web address target for the MEDocs software - makes a lot of sense.

    Overall: if you just look at the behavior, it looks like a ransomware gang: spearphishing, network traversal, bitcoin payment for infrastructure etc.

    I look forward to see how specific attribution to these 6 people was performed.

  9. IGotOut Silver badge


    "No country has weaponized its cyber capabilities as maliciously or irresponsibly as Russia, wantonly causing unprecedented damage to pursue small tactical advantages"

    Cough...Isreal /US

    1. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge

      Re: Hmmmm.

      Isn't the guy making an actual serious point here. Israel and the US cooperated on Stuxnet for a serious and reasonably proportionate purpose of stopping the Iranian nuclear program. Or at least delayng it long enough to try and negotiate it away. The alternative option being allowing a nuclear Iran or bombing their nuclear program - neither of which are exactly peachy.

      You might say this is wrong / illegal / stupid / whatever. But it's neither disproportionate nor trivial.

      Here the allegation is that the Russian government, sulking after getting caught cheating massively at international sport, tried to sabotage the Olympics for no other purpose than childish spite.

      GRU hackers were in fact caught by Dutch police war-driving outside the OPCW headquarters - trying to hack into the networks of the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons. Despite the fact that Russia is a member of that organisation - and therefore gets the full reports and data that they publish. Which, while bad, is at least the sort of thing you expect to use spies for.

      But that same team had also got info on their laptops that they'd got from war-driving outside a lab used by the World Anti-Doping Agency - so as well as the serious work of trying to cover up a Russian government use of chemical weapons - the same guys were also involved in trying to cover up that cheating at the Olympics. Which is trivial. In fact, downright fucking pathetic. So I don't think it's an unreasonable accusation.

      When the NSA are caught trying to fix the Olympic basketball, you'll have a point.

      1. c1ue

        Re: Hmmmm.

        "reasonable and proportionate"

        Interesting that you use these terms when it can be argued that this action is what prompted everyone to "take the gloves off".

        Again, I don't say Russia is pure as the driven snow.

        The operative statement is: "Let he who is without sin, cast the first stone".

        1. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge

          Re: Hmmmm.

          Can that be argued? I've not seen anyone argue it seriously and I'm not sure I'd believe them if they did.

          It's not as if computer intrusion is anything new, or as if states haven't been doing it - probably since there were computers.

          But as I said, show me evidence of GCHQ, the NSA or Mossad trying to fix some skiing - and I'll admit you have a point. Otherwise it's just pointless whatabouttery.

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