Canada concerned by ‘pattern of malicious cyber activity’ by Russian military, GAC says

FILE - In this file photo dated Wednesday, March 14, 2018, Russian President Vladimir Putin speaks in front of a Russian National flag in Sevastopol, Crimea. (AP Photo/Alexander Zemlianichenko, FILE)

Canadian officials are expressing concern over what they say is a “pattern of malicous cyber activity” at the hands of Russian military intelligence.

In a statement Monday afternoon, Global Affairs Canada (GAC) and the Communications Security Establishment said the country is “concerned over reports of a series of global malicious cyber activities, as detailed in today’s statements by the United States and the United Kingdom.”

“These statements clearly demonstrate a pattern of disruptive activities and a continued disregard for the rules-based international order and international law,” the statement reads.

Earlier on Monday, six current and former Russian military officers were charged by the U.S. Justice Department in connection to vast hacking campaigns that sought to disrupt the French election, the Winter Olympics and U.S. hospitals and businesses.

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The newly unsealed indictment detailed destructive attacks on a broad range of targets and implicates the same Kremlin unit that interfered in the 2016 U.S. election.

The indictment accuses the defendants, all said to be officers in the Russian military agency known as the GRU, in hacks that prosecutors say were aimed at furthering the Kremlin’s geopolitical interests and as retribution against its perceived enemies.

“No country has weaponized its cyber capabilities as maliciously and irresponsibly as Russia, wantonly causing unprecedented collateral damage to pursue small tactical advantages as fits of spite,” Assistant Attorney General John Demers said at a news conference on Monday.

None of the six accused are currently in custody, the U.S. Justice Department said.

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In the statement, Canadian officials said the activities are examples of the Russian military intelligence’s “willingness” to “target critical infrastructure and international organizations.”

“Canada has repeatedly exposed Russia’s responsibility in malicious cyber activity,” the statement said. “This includes the GRU’s interference with Georgia’s 2019 parliamentary elections, the NotPetya cyber outbreaks in 2017 that caused massive damage to government and business networks, primarily in Ukraine.”

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GAC and the Communications Security Establishment said they will continue to work with international partners to develop measures to prevent, deter, discourage and counter malicious cyber attacks.

“Canada is committed to advancing a peaceful and stable cyberspace, built on the applicability and respect of international law,” the statement reads.

The news comes less than three weeks before the U.S. presidential election.

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— With files from The Associated Press

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