US charges Russian government hackers for NotPetya cyberattack

Nicole Lee
·Senior Editor
·1-min read

The United States has officially filed criminal charges against six Russian intelligence officers for releasing the NotPetya ransomware virus as well as disrupting Ukraine’s power grid, The Washington Post reports. The NotPetya ransomware virus has reportedly affected banks, an airport and various businesses in Ukraine, Russia and abroad, causing billions of dollars in damages.

The accused hackers are members of the Russian GRU, who prosecutors say is behind the “most disruptive and destructive series of computer attacks ever attributed to a single group.” Cybersecurity researchers have also dubbed them as the Sandworm Team. US assistant attorney general for national security John Demers said that “no country has weaponized its cyber capabilities as maliciously or irresponsibly as Russia, wantonly causing unprecedented damage to pursue small tactical advantages and to satisfy fits of spite.”

Prosecutors also blamed the six individuals for trying to disrupt the 2017 French elections by launching a “hack and leak” operation to discredit Emmanual Macron. They were also accused of spearphishing attacks, malicious mobile apps and IT malware incidents during the 2018 Olympics in PyeongChang, South Korea. The group also used spearphishing attacks to target organizations for investigating the poisoning of Sergei Skripal in the UK.

The accused hackers include Yuriy Andrienko, Sergey Detistov, Pavel Frolov and Anatoliy Kovalev. Kovalev was also indicted in 2018 for allegedly being part of a Russian hack to influence the 2016 presidential election.