US charges 6 Russian military officers in absentia with global cyberattack, including on Georgia

  • The charged officers of Russian Main Intelligence Directorate are wanted and assumed to be in Russia., 20 Oct 2020 - 11:40, Tbilisi,Georgia

The US has charged six Russian Main Intelligence Directorate (GRU) officers in absentia with cyberattacks against several states, including Georgia, stating that the alleged cyberattackers used destructive malware to black out thousands of computers and cause nearly $1 billion in losses.

The US Justice Department says that the cyber attacks intended to support Russian government efforts to undermine, retaliate against, or otherwise destabilise worldwide computer networks. 

The individuals are Yuriy Sergeyevich Andrienko, Sergey Vladimirovich Detistov, Pavel Valeryevich Frolov, Anatoliy Sergeyevich Kovalev, Artem Valeryevich Ochichenko and Petr Nikolayevich Pliskin.

They have all been charged with seven counts: conspiracy to conduct computer fraud and abuse, conspiracy to commit wire fraud, wire fraud, damaging protected computers and aggravated identity theft.

They are wanted and assumed to be in Russia and face a maximum sentence of 27 years in prison if detained and convicted.

The United States District Court for the Western District of Pennsylvania issued a federal arrest warrant for the individuals.

The defendants' and their co-conspirators caused damage and disruption to computer networks worldwide, including in France, Georgia (in 2018 and 2019, against one of Georgian media outlets and the computer network of the Georgian parliament respectively), the Netherlands, Republic of Korea, Ukraine, the United Kingdom, and the United States," prosecutors said.

The Georgian Foreign Ministry has welcomed the efforts of ‘our US partners to bring justice to those responsible for the reckless cyber attacks’.

The government of Georgia is grateful for the contributions by the United States and our friends and allies to strengthen Georgia’s cyber defense capabilities and resilience,” said the ministry. 

The ministry stated that a united stance amongst the international community is vital in condemning and confronting threats ‘posed by Russia to the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Georgia, its stability, institutions and democratic development’.