Russian intelligence officers indicted in global hacking scheme

Mikhail Svetlov via Getty Images               The NCSC has judged the Kremlin is behind the actions of the GRU

Mikhail Svetlov via Getty Images The NCSC has judged the Kremlin is behind the actions of the GRU

Moscow says he is a Russian parliamentary staff member and has demanded Oslo lift the "absurd charges".

The United States Department of Justice has charged Russian military intelligence officers with global hacking offences.

Eichelsheim warned against being naive and considering the Netherlands as relatively safe from Russian cyber attacks.

Russian officials portrayed the allegations as part of an anti-Russian campaign meant to entrench Moscow's reputation as an enemy.

'This was a contra intelligence operation, not a criminal investigation, ' he said.

London has also accused two of GRU's officers of poisoning former double-agent Sergei Skripal and his daughter in the British city of Salisbury in March, using a perfume bottle containing a powerful nerve agent.

Other alleged targets include the Court of Arbitration for Sport, football's governing body FIFA, and the US Westinghouse Electric Company, which specialises in nuclear technology.

"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.

Dutch Defence Minister Ank Bijleveld said: "The cyber operation targeting the OPCW is unacceptable". All 298 people on board were killed.

"The International Community - including Russian Federation - has agreed that international law and norms of responsible state behavior apply in cyberspace", Australia's Prime Minister Scott Morrison said. "I hope that through today's charges, which fall far from the electoral arena of our prior charges, we can further educate ourselves as to the scope of the Russian government's disinformation and influence campaigns".

What have the other countries said?

U.S. Attorney General John Demers said the seven suspects are in Russian Federation and can not be extradited.

Mr. Demers said the operations "involved sophisticated, persistent and unauthorised access into the victims' computer networks for the objective of stealing private or otherwise sensitive information".

In a British assessment based on work by its National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC), Russian military intelligence (GRU) was cast as a pernicious cyber aggressor which used a network of hackers to spread discord across the world. The United States said Moscow must be made to pay the price for its actions.

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What were the suspects doing in the Netherlands?

According to the evidence produced on Thursday at a press conference hosted by Dutch and British officials, this hapless crew used publicly accessible Wi-Fi hotspots, meaning that their login details were easily traceable.

Equipment in the vehicle boot was pointed at the OPCW and was being used to intercept login details, he said, adding that the antenna for the operation lay under a jacket on the car's rear shelf.

When the men were intercepted they tried to destroy one of the mobile phones they were carrying.

The GRU, also known as the Main Intelligence Directorate, is the intelligence arm of the Russian military.

He said Russia's actions against the Netherlands-based OPCW came as the agency was conducting an independent analysis of the nerve agent used against the Skripals.

The men were caught and expelled from the Netherlands.

They were named by the MIVD as hackers Alexei Morenetz and Yevgeny Serebriakov, and support agents Oleg Sotnikov and Alexei Minin. The UK's ambassador to the Netherlands, Peter Wilson, said the unit had "sent officers around the world to conduct brazen close access cyber-operations" - which involve hacking into wifi networks.

Dutch authorities escorted four Russian intelligence officers out of the country hours after the vehicle they had rented was found parked near the OPCW's building in The Hague, its trunk full of gear for hacking WiFi networks.

What was on their computer?

As well as the equipment in the vehicle, a laptop seized from the suspects was found to have been used in Brazil, Switzerland and Malaysia.

He suggested that America is not affected by diplomatic tension around worldwide evidence that a Russian missile filed by pro-Russian separatist fighters in Ukraine shot down the MH17 plane killing 298 people in July 2014.

The indictment claims conspirators targeted anti-doping bodies after Russia's state-sponsored subversion of drug testing processes had been exposed.

The OPCW is an global chemical weapons watchdog based at The Hague in The Netherlands.

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