KUALA LUMPUR,. A global investigation into Russian state-sponsored cyber espionage revealed that the Attorney General’s Chambers (AGC) and Royal Malaysia Police were also targeted by the hackers.
According to a report by British state broadcaster BBC, the motive for the cyber attacks on Malaysian authorities was over the multinational investigation into Russia’s role in the downing of Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17.
Russian hackers’ activities were exposed following the seizure of laptops from four suspects briefly detained in the Netherlands, from which investigators discovered their use in four global locations including Malaysia.
From one confiscated machine, investigators extracted information that one Dutch official said contained details of a cyber-operation based here that targeted the AGC and PDRM.
The report did not reveal the nature of the cyber-attacks or whether these were successful.
Russia stands accused of various espionage schemes, both in cyberspace and in the real world, that includes attempts to mask the extent of its involvement in the missile launch that brought down the Malaysian plane in 2014.
The BBC report also said countries worldwide including the US, the UK, Canada, and the Netherlands suspect that Moscow coordinated various espionage attacks that span election hacking, disrupting anti-doping probes, and an attack on an American nuclear power firm.
Suspicions of Russian state involvement were heightened as the four suspects carried Russian diplomatic passports, which prevented Dutch authorities from arresting them.
A US national security official told the media in Washington that the attacks were meant to discredit and delegitimize agencies investigating Russia over various matters.
Russia has denied all the claims, insisting that Western rivals were prejudiced in their view of the country.
“It’s unclear who is supposed to believe these statements accusing Russian citizens of attempting to mount cyber-attacks against the OPCW and trying to obtain data related to the Malaysian flight MH17, as if it is necessary to be near the target of your attack,” Moscow said in a statement.
“Any Russian citizen carrying a mobile device is seen as a spy.”
MH17 was shot down on July 17, 2014, while flying over eastern Ukraine as it was heading from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur. All 283 passengers and 15 crew members were killed.
The Joint Investigation Team headed by the Dutch Ministry of Justice, eventually indicated the plane may have been down by pro-Russian rebels fighting against the Ukrainian government, which Moscow has denied.