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‘Cynical and reckless’: UK, U.S. condemn Russian hacking into Tokyo 2020 in a bid to disrupt Olympics

Tue 20 Oct 2020    
| 2 min read

Russian hackers targeted this year’s Olympic Games in Tokyo with the aim of disrupting them, UK officials said.

The Foreign Office said Russia’s GRU military intelligence carried out “cyber reconnaissance” against officials and organisations involved.

The alleged attacks took place before the Games were postponed until 2021 because of the coronavirus pandemic. Officials did not, however, specify the nature or extent of the cyber-attacks in detail.

Japan gears for Tokyo 2020 amid COVID postponements [Image: Tokyo 2020]

At the same time, the US Department of Justice announced charges against six Russian GRU officers for alleged cyber-attacks serving “the strategic benefit of Russia”.

The group sought to disrupt the 2018 Winter Olympics, the 2017 French presidential election, and Ukraine’s power grid, U.S. prosecutors said.

“No country has weaponised its cyber capabilities as maliciously or irresponsibly as Russia,” assistant attorney general John Demers told a press conference, calling it “the most disruptive and destructive series of computer attacks ever attributed to a single group”.

UK Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab said the attacks targeting organisers, sponsors, and logistics providers of the Tokyo Olympic and Paralympic Games were “cynical and reckless”.

“We condemn them in the strongest possible terms,” he said. “The UK will continue to work with our allies to call out and counter future malicious cyber-attacks.”

Foreign Office officials also revealed details of the attack on the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea.

On that occasion, the operation was a “false flag” – one designed to look like it came from North Korea or China, they said.

The UK and US have been trying to increase the pressure on Russian hackers for a number of years by publicly exposing their activity, and they will be hoping that news of Moscow targeting an event like the Olympics will draw wider support from other countries.

It is thought that this attempt at disruption, like the 2018 attack on the Winter Olympics, was in response to Russia being excluded from sporting events for doping violations.

[Sourced from Agencies]