Dutch intelligence service stopped Russian hackers attacking OPWC

Ank Bjleveld
Ank Bjleveld. (Photo: Rijksoverheid)

Dutch military intelligence service MIVD prevented a hacking operation by Russian secret service G.U. aimed at the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPWC), Minister Ank Bijleveld of Defense announced at a press conference in The Hague on Thursday. The G.U. tried to hack the OPWC on April 13th. Four involved Russian officers were deported from the Netherlands that same day, NOS reports.

The Russians tried to hack into the OPWC's WiFi network. The deported Russian officers had to leave their belongings behind, and among these devices were found that are used in cyber attacks, according to the MIVD. The laptop of one of the Russian officers connected with multiple countries, including Malaysia. The MIVD therefore believes that the Russians may have been trying to gain access to the investigation into the MH17 disaster.

According to the MIVD, it is unusual for the service to bring out such news, but the United States will publish an indictment later on Thursday. The Russian secret service is active in the Netherlands, partly because so many international organizations are located here, the service said.

Minister Bijleveld is proud of the MIVD's work. She called on the Russians to stop secret cyber operations and said she called the Russian ambassador in to give an explanation.

The names and the functions of the four Russian officers involved in the attempted cyber attack was also revealed at the press conference: 'cyber operators' Aleksej Sergejvich Morenets and Yevgeny Mikhailovich Serebrjakov, and 'human intelligence support' officers Oleg Miajlovich Sotnikov and Aleksej Valeryvich Minin.

On Thursday morning the British government reported that the Russian secret service is behind a series of global cyber attacks designed to undermine Western democracies. "They are trying to undermine and influence elections in other countries", British Foreign Minister Jeremy Hunt said. "Together with our allies we will come up with an answer to these attempts by the secret service G.U. to undermine international stability."

In January it became known that the Dutch intelligence services also played an important role in the current FBI investigation into Russian influence on the American presidential elections in 2016. Intelligence services AIVD and MIVD provided the United States with from the Russian hacker group 'Cozy Bear'. 

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