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Russia behind Fancy Bears’ WADA attacks, says UK government

NCSC says GRU is responsible for data hacks on Farah, Froome and Wiggins.

by Tom Bassam

Russia behind Fancy Bears’ WADA attacks, says UK government

The Kremlin is behind the hacking group Fancy Bears, the UK government has claimed in a new report.

The UK’s National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) brief accuses Russia of undertaking the spate of cyber-attacks on some of world sport’s leading organisations over recent years. 

The NCSC says the Russian military intelligence service (GRU), is responsible for the “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 hacked and released data from WADA and the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF), releasing medical documents belonging to British athletes including Mo Farah, Bradley Wiggins and Chris Froome, and also targeting the International Olympic Committee (IOC).

US security firms have also accused the GRU of being behind the Fancy Bears. Back in June, the hacking group was named during Robert Mueller’s US Special Counsel investigation into Russian government interference in the 2016 election.

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.

UK 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."