The impeachment announcement came as Britain accused Russian cyber spies of attacking the 2020 Olympics and Paralympics ahead of their postponement and posing as Chinese and North Korean hackers for target games of 2018.
Dominic Raab, the Minister of Foreign Affairs, called the actions of the GRU’s military intelligence service “cynical and reckless”.
The UK named the specific group it claimed was behind the attacks as the GRU’s Main Center for Special Technologies, also known as Unit 74455.
This is the same group of hackers that allegedly targeted the 2016 US presidential election.
The US Department of Justice said that a federal grand jury in Pittsburgh issued an indictment charging six hackers, all of whom are believed to be members of Unit 74455.
He accused the hackers “and their co-conspirators” of cyber attacks against the British defense laboratory at Porton Down and the UN chemical weapons watchdog in The Hague in April 2018, as the two organizations investigated on the poisoning of the former Russian spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter. Yulia in Salisbury.
The UK has accused Russia of the nerve agent attack with a novichok toxin.
Hackers were also accused of targeting the 2017 French presidential election. Next, the campaign of presidential candidate Emmanuel Macron was hit with a hack and leak attack just before election day.
Other attacks linked to the group include Ukraine, Georgia and the Pyeongchang 2018 Winter Olympics in South Korea.
In its separate statement, the Office for Foreign Affairs, Commonwealth and Development accused Russia of conducting a “reconnaissance” against the organizers of the Tokyo 2020 Summer Games before the event was delayed due to of the coronavirus pandemic.
Targets also included companies involved in game logistics as well as sponsors.
The games were scheduled to run from July 23 to August 8 but were postponed until March until 2021.
Details of the recognition were not disclosed, but it could involve things like setting up bogus websites posing as a particular organization or setting up accounts masquerading as a certain person.
The goal could well have been to try to disrupt the global sporting bonanza at a time when Russia is banned from participating for four years due to a doping scandal.
“The actions of the GRU against the Olympic and Paralympic Games are cynical and reckless. We condemn them in the strongest terms, ”Raab said in a statement.
“The UK will continue to work with our allies to expose and counter future malicious cyber attacks. ”
Part of the timing for the UK’s claim to be released is to raise awareness of the cyber threat as organizers prepare to host the delayed Olympics next year in Japan.
The Foreign Ministry also for the first time confirmed details of a 2018 cyberattack on the Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games in Pyeongchang.
“The GRU cyber unit attempted to disguise itself as North Korean and Chinese hackers when it targeted the opening ceremony of the 2018 Winter Games,” he said.
“It then targeted broadcasters, a ski resort, Olympic officials and sponsors of the games in 2018. The GRU deployed data deletion malware against the computer systems of the Winter Games and targeted devices through Republic of Korea using VPNFilter. ”
The Russian hackers’ alleged attempt to cover their tracks included the use of certain snippets and techniques to try to confuse investigators into believing they were from China and North Korea.
The UK’s National Cyber Security Center, a branch of GCHQ, believes Russia’s goal was to sabotage the functioning of the games, the Foreign Office said.
He noted that the malware used by hackers in the 2018 attack was designed to erase data from computers and networks and disable them.
“Administrators worked to isolate the malware and replace the affected computers, avoiding possible disruption,” the Foreign Office said.
GRU 74455 is also known by a number of other names, including Sandworm, BlackEnergy Group and Voodoo Bear.
The UK has previously attributed other major cyberattacks to the group, including the June 2017 NotPetya attack on the financial, energy and government sectors in Ukraine, but which have spread around the world causing massive damage.