U.S. government accuses Russian military of hacking Georgia

By Justin Doubleday / February 20, 2020 at 11:14 AM

The State Department and the Pentagon today publicly accused the Russian military of conducting "a widespread cyberattack" against the country of Georgia last fall.

The cyberattack occurred on Oct. 28, 2019, according to a statement from Pentagon spokeswoman Lt. Col. Carla Gleason. The Pentagon attributed the attack to the Russian General Staff Main Intelligence Directorate, also known by the Russian acronym GRU.

"The incident disrupted government and private websites and broadcast systems and affected the Georgian population at large," Gleason wrote.

In a separate statement, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo attributed the attack specifically to the GRU's Main Center for Special Technologies, or GTsST, also known as Unit 74455 and Sandworm.

"This action contradicts Russia's attempts to claim it is a responsible actor in cyberspace and demonstrates a continuing pattern of reckless Russian GRU cyber operations against a number of countries," Pompeo said. "These operations aim to sow division, create insecurity, and undermine democratic institutions."

The attack "disrupted operations of several thousand Georgian government and privately run websites and interrupted the broadcast of at least two major television stations," according to Pompeo.

The statements released today are notable for the level of public attribution provided by the U.S. government. Neither the Pentagon nor the State Department released more specific, forensic details on how they attributed the attack to Russia's GRU.