TBILISI/FEB. 20 (The Bulletin) – The United States and Britain blamed Russia for a cyber-attack on Georgia last year that paralysed hundreds of government, court, media, NGO and business websites for up to a week.
In a statement, the British foreign office said that the attack on Oct. 28 was part of a long-running campaign by Russia’s GRU military spy service to destabilise Georgia.
“The GRU’s reckless and brazen campaign of cyber-attacks against Georgia, a sovereign and independent nation, is totally unacceptable,” Britain’s foreign secretary Dominic Raab said.
Relations between Russia and Georgia worsened last year after a visit to Georgia’s parliament by a Russian MP in June sparked a large anti-Russia demonstration. In retaliation, the Kremlin cut direct flights to Georgia from Russia, hitting Georgia’s important tourist industry.
Russia has denied it was behind the cyber-attack, described as one of the largest ever on a country’s internet infrastructure, but the British statement said that it was 95% certain that the GRU was responsible.
“The cyber programme responsible for these disruptions is known in open source variously as the Sandworm team, BlackEnergy Group, Telebots, and VoodooBear,” the statement said. “It is operated by the GRU’s Main Centre of Special Technologies, often referred to by the abbreviation GTsST or its field post number 74455.”
The US statement said that the attack was part of “reckless Russian GRU cyber operations against a number of countries”.
Georgia and Russia fought a brief war in 2008.
–This story was first published in issue 437 of the weekly Central Asia & South Caucasus Bulletin