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Archive for October 20th, 2020

U.S. Charges Six Russian Intelligence Officers with Hacking

GRU Emblem

By Steve Neavling

The Justice Department on Monday indicted six Russian intelligence agency officers in connection with what prosecutors called some of the world’s most destructive cyber attacks.

The attacks targeted the Ukrainian power grid in 2016, the French elections in 2017 and the winter Olympics in 2018. 

A grand jury in Pittsburgh returned the seven-count indictment on Thursday, which includes charges for conspiracy, wire fraud, computer fraud, and aggravated identity theft. 

Those charged are officers within Unit 74455 of the Russian Main Intelligence Directorate, known as the GRU, which is a military intelligence agency.

“No country has weaponized its cyber capabilities as maliciously or irresponsibly as Russia, wantonly causing unprecedented damage to pursue small tactical advantages and to satisfy fits of spite,” Assistant Attorney General for National Security John C. Demers said in a statement.  “Today the department has charged these Russian officers with conducting the most disruptive and destructive series of computer attacks ever attributed to a single group, including by unleashing the NotPetya malware.  No nation will recapture greatness while behaving in this way.”

U.S. Attorney Scott W. Brady for the Western District of Pennsylvania said the charges are part of a two-year investigation.

“For more than two years we have worked tirelessly to expose these Russian GRU Officers who engaged in a global campaign of hacking, disruption and destabilization, representing the most destructive and costly cyber-attacks in history,” Brady said.  “The crimes committed by Russian government officials were against real victims who suffered real harm.  We have an obligation to hold accountable those who commit crimes – no matter where they reside and no matter for whom they work – in order to seek justice on behalf of these victims.” 

Robert R. Wells Named Special Agent in Charge of Charlotte Field Office in North Carolina

By Steve Neavling

Robert R. Wells has been named special agent in charge of the Charlotte Field Office in North Carolina. 

Most recently, Wells had served as deputy assistant director in the Counterintelligence Division at FBI headquarters in Washington, D.C.

Wells’s career as an FBI special agent began in 2003, when was assigned to the Washington Field Office to work counterterrorism and counterintelligence. He also served as a crisis negotiator. 

In 2010, Wells was promoted to supervisory special agent in the Counterterrorism Division at headquarters.

In 2011, Wells became supervisory special agent of the Joint Terrorism Task Force in the Louisville Field Office in Kentucky, where he was responsible for international and domestic terrorism investigations, in addition to the Weapons of Mass Destruction Program and special events.

In 2015, Wells was promoted to assistant section chief of the International Terrorism Operations Section of the Counterterrorism Division. After another promotion in 2017, he became assistant special agent in charge in the Washington Field Office, where he was responsible for all international terrorism investigations in Washington and Northern Virginia.

In 2018, Mr. Wells began serving as the chief of staff for the deputy director, leading the deputy’s staff and helping oversee all criminal, national security, and intelligence programs in the FBI. 

He was promoted again in 2019 to deputy assistant director over the China Branch of the Counterintelligence Division.

Wells earned a bachelor’s degree in psychology from Western Kentucky University, and before joining the FBI, he worked as a probation officer in the Western District of Kentucky.