U.S., U.K. Blame Russia For 2019
Cyberattack On Georgian Websites
February 21, 2020
The United States and Britain have
joined Georgia in blaming Russia for a massive coordinated cyberattack
last year that took thousands of Georgian websites offline and even
disrupted TV broadcasts.
Georgian Foreign Ministry spokesman Vladimer Konstantinidi told a news
conference in Tbilisi on February 20 that the cyberattack was planned
and carried out by Russia.
"The investigation conducted by the Georgian authorities, together with
information gathered through cooperation with partners, concluded that
this cyberattack was planned and carried out by the main division of the
General Staff of the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation,"
Meanwhile, the United States and Britain said in separate statements
that the attack was carried out by a unit of Russia's GRU military
intelligence agency known as Unit 74455 and Sandworm.
Sandworm is known as a single group of hackers within the GRU and
security experts have linked it to such cyber breaches as the theft of 9
gigabytes of e-mails from the French presidential campaign of Emmanuel
Macron, a similar campaign against the Democratic National Committee in
the United States in 2016, as well as the malware that hit Ukraine's
power grid in 2015 and spread globally.
Britain has also linked the group to two attacks against Ukraine in
2017, including NotPetya and BadRabbit, which affected the nation's
financial and energy sectors as well as the Kyiv Metro and Odesa’s
"The United States calls on Russia to cease this behavior in Georgia and
elsewhere," Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said, adding that Washington
would provide assistance to Georgia to help improve the country's
ability to fend off such attacks.
"We also pledge our support to Georgia and its people in enhancing their
cybersecurity and countering malicious cyber actors," Pompeo added.
Russia denied involvement in penetrating Georgian government websites.
"Russia did not plan and is not planning to interfere in Georgia's
internal affairs in any way," Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Andrei
Rudenko told Russian news agencies.
The Russian Defense Ministry did not immediately comment.
More than 2,000 state, private, and media websites as well as two
private television stations -- Imedi and Maestro -- were knocked out on
October 28. The targeted websites included those of the president's
office and local municipality offices.
many cases, website home pages were replaced with an image of former
President Mikheil Saakashvili, and the caption "I'll be back."
Russia has fraught relations with its southern neighbor, which is
seeking to join Western organizations, including the European Union and
NATO, moves that Moscow opposes.
Russia fought a five-day war with Georgia in 2008 after which Russia
recognized the independence claim of two breakaway regions, Abkhazia and
South Ossetia, which comprise 20 percent of its territory.
Russia is one of only a few countries that recognizes the two regions'