The US has charged 6 Russian hackers for a string of ‘destructive’ cyberattacks that targeted elections, shut down hospitals, and crippled a power grid

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  • The United States accused six Russian government officials of orchestrating a string of high-profile cyberattacks that caused billions of dollars in damage in indictments unsealed on Monday.
  • The alleged cybercrimes include attacks that took down parts of Ukraine’s power grid, disrupted the Olympic games in South Korea, and disrupted the computer systems of several US hospitals.
  • The six Russians are accused of comprising Sandworm, a Russian hacking collective that has wreaked havoc internationally but avoided prosecution until now.
  • Justice Department officials called the alleged hacking “the most destructive, most costly, and most egregious cyberattacks ever known” to be carried out by a single group.
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

Federal prosecutors accused six Russian government officials of orchestrating widespread cyberattacks that targeted Russia’s perceived enemies across the globe in a sweeping indictment unsealed Monday.

The six men are charged with creating a worm called NotPetya that infected computers across the globe and caused $10 billion in damage, as well as carrying out individual attacks that shut down the power grid in Ukraine, disrupted the IT infrastructure of the 2018 Olympics in South Korea, and took down the computer systems of a chain of hospitals in Western Pennsylvania.

The string of hacks are the “most destructive, most costly, and most egregious cyberattacks ever known,” US attorney Scott Brady said in a press conference on Monday.

The hackers — Yuriy Sergeyevich Andrienko, Sergey Vladimirovich Detistov, Pavel Valeryevich Frolov, Artem Valeryevich Ochichenko, Petr Nikolayevich Pliskin, and Anatoliy Sergeyevich Kovalev — are accused of comprising Sandworm, a Russian hacking group that has wreaked havoc for years but avoided prosecution until now.

They’re all members of the GRU, a Russian intelligence agency that the FBI said was behind Russian efforts to interfere in the 2016 presidential election. However, federal prosecutors did not charge the men with planning any attacks on the upcoming US election, and Brady said Monday that law enforcement doesn’t have any reason to believe that Russian hackers have compromised US voting systems.

But according to the indictment, the six Russian hackers did carry out repeated attempts to sabotage Russia’s perceived enemies in recent years, including a 2017 attack on French voting infrastructure and a string of cyberattacks against the Georgian government in 2019.

In one of the most severe cases, the hackers are accused of disrupting Ukraine’s power grid in December 2015, assistant attorney general John Demers said during the press conference Monday.

“These attacks turned out the lights and turned off the heat in the middle of the Eastern European winter, as the lives of hundreds of thousands of Ukrainian men, women and children went dark and cold,” Demers said.

The six hackers are also accused of orchestrating a cyberattack against the Heritage Valley Health Systems, a hospital chain in Western Pennsylvania. The attack used ransomware built into the group’s NotPetya worm, which shut down the computer systems of two hospitals and demanded a ransom payment, shutting down surgeries for about a week.

“These are crimes committed by Russian government officials against real victims who suffered real harms,” Brady said.

The six men are believed to still be residents of Russia, according to the indictment. Russia has repeatedly denied US allegations that it orchestrated cyberattacks.

Read the full indictment below:

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