UK says Russia on cyber offensive to sabotage Tokyo Olympics


The UK and US have condemned what they said were a litany of malicious cyberattacks orchestrated by Russian military intelligence, including efforts to disrupt next year’s Olympic and Paralympic Games in Tokyo.

British and American officials said that the attacks have been conducted by Unit 74455 of Russia’s GRU military intelligence bureau, also referred to as the Main Centre for Special Technologies.

In an indictment unsealed on Monday, the US Justice Department said six members of the unit had played key roles in attacks on targets which range from the 2018 Winter Olympics in South Korea to the 2017 French elections.

UK officials said the GRU hackers had conducted “cyber reconnaissance” operations against organisers of their 2020 Tokyo Games, that were originally scheduled to be held annually but postponed due to the coronavirus outbreak.

The officials declined to offer certain details about the attacks or whether they were powerful, but they had targeted Games organisers, logistics suppliers and sponsors.

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FBI Deputy Director David Bowdich explained, “The FBI has repeatedly warned that Russia is a highly capable cyber adversary, and the information revealed in this indictment illustrates how pervasive and destructive Russia’s cyber activities truly are.”

Russia was banned from the world’s top sporting events for several years in December over widespread doping offences, including the Tokyo Games that were initially scheduled for this year but postponed as a result of coronavirus epidemic.

The strikes on the 2020 Games would be the most current in a series of hacking attempts against global sporting organisations that Western officials and cybersecurity experts say have been orchestrated by Russia since its doping scandal erupted five years ago. Moscow has denied the allegations.

The UK and the US said on Monday those strikes included a hack on the 2018 Winter Olympics opening ceremony in South Korea, which compromised countless computers, took down Internet access and disrupted broadcast packs.

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The assault from South Korea had been linked to Russia from cybersecurity investigators but had been forced to appear to be the function of Chinese or North Korean hackers, Britain’s foreign ministry said in a declaration.

The team at Platform Executive hope you have enjoyed this news article. Initial reporting via our official content partners at Thomson Reuters. Reporting by Jack Stubbs. Editing by William Maclean.

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