Russia behind Fancy Bears hacks, claims UK government report

The Kremlin is behind the hacking group Fancy Bears, according to the British government, and is responsible for the spate of cyber attacks on some of world sport’s leading organisations over recent years.  

A new report by the UK’s National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) accuses the Russian military intelligence service, the GRU, “of indiscriminate and reckless cyber attacks targeting political institutions, businesses, media and sport”, and links Fancy Bears’ activity to both the GRU and Vladimir Putin’s government. 

Fancy Bears has carried out a range of cyber attacks including hacking Wada and the IAAF, the world athletics governing body, releasing medical documents belonging to British athletes including Mo Farah, Bradley Wiggins and Chris Froome, and also targeting the International Olympic Committee.

The GRU has been accused of being behind Fancy Bears’ attacks by US security firms, and was named during the US Special Counsel investigation earlier this year into Russian government interference.

The British government has now concluded “with high confidence that the GRU was almost certainly responsible” for Fancy Bears attacks including the one on Wada in August 2017, and adjudged the illegal operations to be part of wider international cyber warfare by the Russian government.

The foreign secretary, Jeremy Hunt, said: “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.

“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. This pattern of behaviour demonstrates their desire to operate without regard to international law or established norms and to do so with a feeling of impunity and without consequences.

“Our message is clear: together with our allies, we will expose and respond to the GRU’s attempts to undermine international stability.”

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