(Ken Silva, Holder USA) the Department of Justice announced charges Thursday against two Russian nationals who allegedly employed a “sophisticated” cyber attack against the US and its allies over a six-year period, stealing US nuclear secrets and other sensitive information in the process.
According to the DOJ, the “sophisticated” Russian attack involved an antiquated phishing scheme.
“The conspirators used 'fake' email accounts designed to look like personal and work-related email accounts of the group's targets. The conspirators also allegedly sent sophisticated-looking emails that appeared to be from email providers suggesting that users had violated the terms of service,” the DOJ said in a press release.
“These messages were designed to trick victims into providing their email account credentials in the fake login instructions.”
You'd think US intelligence agencies would be the last to fall for a phishing attack, especially after the Russiagate fiasco, but it appears the Russians duped some high-level officials.
According to the DOJ, the victims include State Department and Defense Department officials, a retired Air Force general, and employees at several of the Department of Energy's 17 facilities across the country, where secrets are kept very sensitive nuclear.
And it appears that the Russian scheme was successful in stealing nuclear secrets.
“Once the conspirators illegally obtained victims' credentials, they were able to gain unauthorized access to their accounts and obtain valuable information from their victims' accounts at will, including intelligence related to the defense of the States United States, foreign affairs and security policies, as well as technology, research and development related to nuclear energy. accusation against the Russians he said.
Other goals included Ukraine, NATO and the United Kingdom. The DOJ said the Russian hacking campaign led to election interference in the UK.
“The conspirators, known publicly as the 'Callisto Group', targeted military and government officials, researchers and staff at think tanks and journalists in the UK and elsewhere, and this information from some of these accounts targeting Russia and the United Kingdom was leaked to the press ahead of the 2019 UK election,” the DOJ said.
The DOJ charged Russian nationals Ruslan Aleksandrovich Peretyatko and Andrey Stanislavovich Korinets in the scheme. They were all charged with one count of conspiracy to commit computer fraud, which carries a maximum sentence of five years in prison for Peretyatko and up to 10 years for Korinets.
The State Department has announced a $10 million reward for information on the location of the defendants, who remain at large.
Ken Silva is a staff writer for Headline USA. Follow him at twitter.com/jd_cashless.