UK and Australia blame Russian GRU for quartet of cyber attacks

The British government says recent 'indiscriminate and reckless' global cyberattacks are the handiwork of the Russian military intelligence.
Written by Chris Duckett, Contributor

The Russian military intelligence unit GRU is behind a fresh wave of global cyber attacks, British officials say.

UK Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt says the GRU is responsible for "indiscriminate and reckless" attacks against political institutions, businesses, media, and sports.

Britain's National Cyber Security Centre has concluded that hackers behind numerous attacks have been identified as GRU personnel.

Australia has joined the UK in attributing the attacks to the GRU.

In a statement released on Thursday morning, Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison and Foreign Affairs Minister Marise Payne placed the blame on Russia for:

Hunt said the UK and its allies would "expose and respond to the GRU's attempts to undermine international stability."

"These cyber attacks serve no legitimate national security interest, instead impacting the ability of people around the world to go about their daily lives free from interference, and even their ability to enjoy sport," he said.

"The GRU's actions are reckless and indiscriminate; they try to undermine and interfere in elections in other countries. They are even prepared to damage Russian companies and Russian citizens."

For its part, Australia said the rule of law applies online just as it does offline, and it would protect the "rules-based international order".

"Cyberspace is not the Wild West," Morrison and Payne said. "The International Community -- including Russia -- has agreed that international law and norms of responsible state behaviour apply in cyberspace.

"By embarking on a pattern of malicious cyber behaviour, Russia has shown a total disregard for the agreements it helped to negotiate."

At the start of the year, the United States, the United Kingdom, and Australia pointed the finger at Russia for the NotPetya malware attacks.

"The UK government judges that the Russian government, specifically the Russian military, was responsible for the destructive NotPetya cyber attack of June 2017," UK Foreign Office Minister for Cyber Security Tariq Ahmad said at the time.

Also see: Blaming Russia for NotPetya was coordinated diplomatic action

"The attack showed a continued disregard for Ukrainian sovereignty. Its reckless release disrupted organisations across Europe, costing hundreds of millions of pounds."

British officials also earlier blamed the GRU for the March nerve agent attack on Russian former spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia in the English city of Salisbury.

Russia denies any involvement.

Earlier this month, former Facebook CSO Alex Stamos said it was "pretty clear" that GRU wanted to weaken a potential Clinton presidency in 2016.

"Putin has a [you know, it's been well-documented] like a personal antipathy towards her and believes that she was behind the protests against him in the 2012 Russian election, and so the GRU activity was specifically focused on weakening her," he said. "I think it was less about actually electing Trump.

"I find it unlikely that the Russians are better than Nate Silver at predicting elections."

With AAP

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