US INTELLIGENCE has claimed that Russia, not North Korea, was behind the cyber attacks at the start of the Winter Olympics.
That's according to a report in the Washington Post, which reports on US intelligence's claims suggesting that Russian military specialists were behind the attacks and wanted North Korea to be blamed.
During the opening ceremony at the start of the month, cyber crooks cracked the Games' computers, causing disruption to broadcast systems, internet connections and the Olympics website.
Originally, officials accused North Korea of trying to sabotage the opening ceremony, despite sending its own team to participate. However, two US intelligence officials, talking anonymously to the Washington Post, believe that Russia was behind the "false-flag operation".
Russia was not invited to take part in the games following a ban for systemic, state-sponsored doping. US cybersecurity experts believe that the country launched these attacks to retaliate against the event's organisers while stirring up trouble between the US and North Korea.
South Korea is routinely targeted by cyber attackers based north of the border, and the Winter Olympics has been a particular target - before as well as during.
The Washington Post claims that Russian spies were already able to access 300 Winter Olympics computers, so launching an attack on the organisation when it opened was relatively straightforward.
One of the officials said: "We're watching it pretty closely. It's essentially a Korean problem. We will help the Koreans as requested."
US officials claimed that the hackers are based at Russia's Main Center for Special Technology, which has also been fingered as the launch pad for cyberattacks on Western targets as well.
In 2017, the agency was linked to the NotPetya cyber attack, which targeted businesses in Ukraine, but which also affected IT systems beyond the country's borders. Shipping firm Maersk, Cadbury's, TNT Express and Reckitt Benckiser were among the major companies affected by NotPetya. Total damages from NotPetya could exceed $1bn.
Speaking to the newspaper, former National Security Agency specialist Jake Williams said: "Anyone who controls a router would be able to redirect traffic for one or more selected targets or cause total disruption in the network by stopping the routing entirely.
"Development of router malware is extremely costly, and Russia would likely use it only in locations where it contributes to accomplishing a high-value goal." µ
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