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US charges two Russian citizens accused of hacking NATO computers

by Lance Luo December 8, 2023 5:39 AM 2 min read
Photo illustration of Russian hacker with a laptop. (BeeBright via Getty Images)
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The United States on Dec. 7 announced an indictment alleging Russian nationals Ruslan Peretyatko and Andrei Korinets oversaw a campaign to hack into computers in NATO member states on behalf of Moscow.

“The Russian government continues to target the critical networks of the United States and our partners, as highlighted by the indictment unsealed today,” said Assistant Attorney General Matthew G. Olsen.

Washington alleges cyber operations were conducted by Star Blizzard group, also known as the Callisto Group, an entity associated with Russia's Center 18. The group is linked to an FSB unit behind multiple online attacks targeting NATO countries.

“Today’s indictment is part of a coordinated international response to send a message to the conspirators that the whole of the United States government stands together and with our partners internationally to identify and disrupt cyber espionage actors, particularly those seeking to obtain government information and attempting to create chaos in democratic processes,” said U.S. Attorney Ismail J. Ramsey for the Northern District of California.

Washington says the two Russian nationals are charged with conspiracy to commit computer fraud and wire fraud against the U.S. If convicted, the defendants face a maximum penalty of up to 20 years in prison.

In May, a Russian-speaking criminal group known as CL0P breached the email addresses of 632,000 employees from the U.S. Justice and Defense departments in May, Bloomberg reported.

U.S. airlines, universities, and other federal agencies have also been affected by Russia-linked cyberattacks.

The scale and depth of Russia-linked cyberattacks on U.S. government agencies is still unknown.

“We’ve been working closely … with the FBI and with our federal partners to understand prevalence within federal agencies,” a U.S. cybersecurity official told Politico earlier this year.

US: Major Russian cyberattack compromised 632,000 Pentagon, DOJ email addresses
The report issued by the Office of Personnel Management says hackers used flaws in the file-transfer system MOVEit to gain access to wide-ranging sensitive information.

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