Justice Department charges Russian for allegedly hacking Ukraine's government systems in 2022

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(WASHINGTON) -- Federal prosecutors say they're looking for a Russian civilian who allegedly hacked dozens of Ukrainian government agencies in the lead-up to the 2022 invasion.

Amin Stigal, 22, is wanted for conspiracy to commit computer intrusion and damage, for his alleged role in the cyberattacks, the Department of Justice said after it unsealed the indictment Wednesday.

The DOJ alleged that Stigal supported the Russian GRU's activities by setting up infrastructure for them to conduct cyberattacks, and is alleged to have used a so-called "WhisperGate" malware to target the government entities that included military units and critical infrastructure systems.

The malware would make it appear to victims as if they were being targeted in a ransomware attack, when their data had actually been deleted and their systems rendered inoperable, according to the indictment.

Prior to installing the malware, prosecutors claim Stigal and his co-conspirators would exfiltrate data from their targets and would post it for sale on the internet, in order to "sow concern" among Ukraine's citizens regarding the safety of their personal information in advance of Russia's invasion, the indictment states.

In a January 2022 cyberattack, the hackers compromised computers that hosted information including criminal records, patient health data and motor vehicle insurance information, prosecutors allege.

The hackers then allegedly posted a message on Ukraine's government website reading, "Ukrainians! All information about you has become public, be afraid and expect the worst. This is for your past, present and future," according to the indictment.

Prosecutors also accuse the group of hacking into an unnamed central European country's transportation infrastructure in October 2022 that had supported Ukraine, and claim they also "probed systems" in the United States, including an unnamed government agency in Maryland.

The indictment does not state if the American agency's systems were infiltrated or otherwise affected by the group's malware.

A $10 million reward is being offered for information that leads to Stigal's capture, according to the Justice Department.

Wednesday, June 26, 2024 at 3:23PM by Alexander Mallin, ABC News Permalink