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Russian government agents charged with that massive 2017 Maersk cyber-attack

A poster showing six wanted Russian military intelligence officers is displayed as Assistant Attorney General for the National Security Division John Demers, left, takes the podium to speak at a news conference at the Department of Justice, Monday, Oct. 19, 2020, in Washington. Also pictured is US Attorney for the Western District of Pennsylvania Scott Brady, center. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik, pool)

PortandTerminal.com, October 20, 2020

The US Department of Justice has charged six Russian intelligence agents with being behind that 2017 cyber-attack that hit Maersk, among others, costing the shipping group upwards of USD 300 million

WASHINGTON – The United States has indicted six Russian from the GRU intelligence agency for their alleged roles in a series of attacks causing billions of dollars in damage to the private sector. One of the victims of their attack was Maersk, the world’s largest shipping line. The company estimates that the attack cost them as much as $300 million.


Wanted by the FBI printout

On Monday, the Department of Justice announced that a Pittsburgh grand jury indicted Yuriy Sergeyevich Andrienko, Sergey Vladimirovich Detistov, Pavel Valeryevich Frolov, Anatoliy Sergeyevich Kovalev, Artem Valeryevich Ochichenko, and Petr Nikolayevich Pliskin on Oct. 15.

While US election interference is not part of the indictment, one of the defendants was also named in former special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation. But Assistant Attorney General John Demers said the timing was not related to the upcoming US election.

“No country has weaponized its cyber capabilities as maliciously and irresponsibly as Russia, wantonly causing unprecedented collateral damage to pursue small tactical advantages and to satisfy fits of spite,” assistant attorney general John Demers said in announcing the indictment.

The officers were part of a group known as Sandworm or Telebots, and known for NotPetya, an attack on the Olympic Games and downing the Ukrainian power grid.

“Dishonest rhetoric and cynical and cheap propaganda”

“Today’s allegations, in their entirety, provide a useful lens for evaluating Russia’s offer two weeks ago of a cyber ‘reset’ between Russia and the United States,” said Assistant Attorney General for National Security John Demers at a press conference. He added later: “This indictment lays bare Russia’s use of its cyber capabilities to destabilize and interfere with the domestic political and economic systems of other countries, thus providing a cold reminder of why its proposal is nothing more than dishonest rhetoric and cynical and cheap propaganda.”

The Maersk NotPetya attack

On June 27, 2017 Maersk fell prey to a NotPetya malware attack. The shipping line’s network was crippled within seven minutes, most of the damage was done within an hour and it took nine days to restore its systems.

Adam Banks, head of technology at Maersk gave this account of the scale of the damage in an interview:

“All end-user devices, including 49,000 laptops and print capability, were destroyed,” he says. “All of our 1,200 applications were inaccessible and approximately 1,000 were destroyed. Data was preserved on back-ups but the applications themselves couldn’t be restored from those as they would immediately have been re-infected. Around 3,500 of our 6,200 servers were destroyed — and again they couldn’t be reinstalled.”

The cyber-attack also hit communications. All fixed line phones were inoperable due to the network damage and, because they’d been synchronized with Outlook, all contacts had been wiped from mobiles — severely hampering any kind of coordinated response.

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