Wednesday, April 24, 2024

DOJ: Russia Stole U.S. Nuclear Secrets w/Email Scam

'These messages were designed to trick victims into providing their email account credentials to false login prompts...'

(Ken Silva, Headline USA) The Justice Department announced charges Thursday against two Russian nationals who allegedly employed a “sophisticated” cyberattack against the U.S. and its allies over a six-year period—stealing American nuclear secrets and other sensitive information in the process.

According to the DOJ, the “sophisticated” Russian attack entailed an old-fashioned phishing scheme.

“The conspirators used ‘spoofed’ email accounts designed to look like personal and work-related email accounts of the group’s targets. The conspirators allegedly also sent sophisticated looking emails that appeared to be from email providers suggesting users had violated terms of service,” the DOJ said in a press release.

“These messages were designed to trick victims into providing their email account credentials to false login prompts.”

One might think that U.S. intelligence agencies would be the last to fall for a phishing attack—especially after the Russiagate fiasco—but the Russians apparently tricked some high-level officials.

According to the DOJ, victims included 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 highly sensitive nuclear secrets are kept.

And it looks like the Russian scheme was successful in stealing nuke secrets.

“Once the Conspirators illegally obtained the targeted victims’ credentials, they were able to gain unauthorized access to their accounts and take valuable intelligence from their victims’ accounts at will, including intelligence related to United States defense, foreign affairs, and security policies, as well as nuclear energy related technology, research, and development,” the indictment against the Russians said.

Other targets included Ukraine, NATO and the United Kingdom. The DOJ said the Russian hacking campaign resulted in election interference in the UK.

“The conspirators—known publicly by the name ‘Callisto Group’—targeted military and government officials, think tank researchers and staff, and journalists in the United Kingdom and elsewhere, and that information from certain of these targeted accounts was leaked to the press in Russia and the United Kingdom in advance of U.K. elections in 2019,” the DOJ said.

The DOJ charged Russian nationals Ruslan Aleksandrovich Peretyatko and Andrey Stanislavovich Korinets over the scheme. They were each 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 at Headline USA. Follow him at twitter.com/jd_cashless.

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