UK accuses Russian GRU military intelligence of conducting malicious cyber campaigns to sabotage Tokyo Olympics

2020-10-20

The National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) has accused of planning to disrupt 2020 Olympic and Paralympic Games which were scheduled to take place this year but were postponed because of the pandemic.

, the NCSC said that a joint operation with US intelligence agencies has revealed that GRU's Unit 74455 was involved in cyber reconnaissance operations against sponsors, organisers and logistics suppliers for 2020 Olympic Games and that malicious activities had continued for months before the Organising Committee postponed the event.

British officials have also disclosed details of the in Pyeongchang, South Korea. The NCSC said that it was highly confident that GRU's Main Centre for Specialist Technologies (GTsST), also known as VoodooBear, Sandworm or Unit 74455, played a role in those attacks with an aim to disrupt the summer and winter Olympics.

According to the NCSC, the GRU's hackers targeted the 2018 Winter Games' opening ceremony while posing as Chinese and North Korean hackers. They attacked the Games website so that viewers could not print out tickets. Local Wi-Fi networks surrounding the games also became temporarily unavailable in the preceding hours.

Security experts later found that hackers had installed data-deletion malware in IT systems, with the intent to wipe data and disable networks. They assessed that the attackers had likely compromised the main IT service provider for the Winter Games months before the actual attack was launched.

On Monday, the US government indicted six Russian GRU officers for their alleged roles in hacking activities serving "the strategic benefit of Russia".

The US prosecutors alleged that the hackers were involved in malicious cyber activities, from 2015 to 2019, that aimed to disrupt the 2017 French presidential election, Ukraine's power grid, and the 2018 Winter Olympics.

Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab described the Russian cyber campaigns as "cynical and reckless". He said that the UK will continue to work closely with allies to counter malicious cyber activities by state-sponsored actors.

FBI Deputy Director David Bowdich said that the information revealed in the indictment shows the level of Russia's destructive cyber activities.