Netherlands 'halted Russian cyber-attack on chemical weapons body'
Russia Netherlands 'halted Russian cyber-attack on chemical weapons body'
Four GRU officers were expelled after alleged cyber-attack on Organisation for Prohibition of Chemical Weapons
Dutch military intelligence disrupted a Russian cyber-attack on the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, the countryâs defence minister has said.UK won't be 'backward leaning' in responding to Russian cyber attacks says Williamson - Politics live Read more
The attack is believed is to have been conducted by Russian military intelligence, the GRU, which has also been blamed by the British government for the attack on Sergei and Yulia Skripal in Salisbury in March.
The Dutch defence minister, Ank Bijleveld, said four intelligence officials had been expelled from the Netherlands after being caught spying on the chemical weapons body in April.
The attack was thwarted with the help of British intelligence officers. Whitehall officials said the OPCW had been investigating the attempted assassination of Skripal and his daughter in the UK, as well as the bombing of the MH17 aircraft which was shot down over the Ukraine in 2004 at the time.
Dutch security services caught four GRU operatives âin flagranteâ and immediately deported them to Russia, sources said, while retaining their technical equipment.
The team of four GRU officers travelling on official Russian passports entered the Netherlands on 10 April. On 13 April they parked a car carrying specialist hacking equipment outside the headquarters of the OPCW in The Hague. At that point the Dutch counter-terrorism officers intervened to disrupt the operation and the four GRU officers were ordered to leave the country.
The âclose accessâ hacking attempt, just a month after the Salisbury nerve agent attack, followed an earlier failed âspearphishing attackâ on the OPCW headquarters.
Sources also suggested that the GRU cybercrime unit, known by the international security community as âSandwormâ, had attempted a remote attack on the Porton Down chemical weapons facility in the UK also in April and on the UK Foreign Office in March. Both attacks were unsuccessful.
Russian foreign ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova dismissed the hacking accusations as âbig fantasiesâ.
The British defence secretary, Gavin Williamson, called Russia a âpariah stateâ and said it would continue to be isolated by the international community.
âThese are the actions of a state acting in a reckless and indiscriminate manner ... these are not the actions of a great state; these are the actions of a pariah state and we will continue working with allies to isolate them and make them understand they cannot continue to conduct themselves in such a way,â he said.
The shadow chancellor, John McDonnell, called for tough er state action against Russian individuals. âIf there is hard evidence that we can accuse the Russians of activities in our country which are unacceptable and even criminal, we have to hit them where it hurts, in the pocket. If we use our financial penalties effectively, thatâs the way we can end the threats that we have from Russia at the moment.â
The revelations came hours after the British government directly accused Russian military intelligence of being behind a spate of âreckless and indiscriminate cyber-attacksâ carried out on the orders of the Kremlin, including the hacking in 2016 of the US Democratic National Committee headquarters.
In an unprecedented statement, the foreign secretary, Jeremy Hunt, had said the National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) had found that a number of hackers widely known to have been conducting attacks around the world were covers for the the Russian GRU intelligence service. He added that their attacks had been undertaken with the consent and knowledge of the Kremlin.
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