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According to Daily Mail Kremlin-linked cyber hackers are based in Georgia

By Khatia Bzhalava
Wednesday, May 13
According to the Daily Mail article, highly confidential details of hundreds of Britons taking part in medical trials have been stolen from a lab fighting Covid-19. The investigation suggested that the hackers responsible for the attack are based in Georgia and linked to the Kremlin and Russian security services.

Last week, The Mail On Sunday revealed that hackers linked to Iran and Russia were responsible for 'utterly reprehensible’ attacks to British institutions tackling the virus, including universities and research labs. Two days after the report, the security services released official guidance to research facilities on protecting themselves from such attacks but insisted that none had been successful.

On May 9th, the newspaper revealed new details about the scale of the online battle, which had left the intelligence community ‘stunned.’

In particular, A West London clinical facility that runs trials for medicines and vaccines was attacked in March, with hackers stealing reams of intimate data. As the article reports Hammersmith Medical Research (HMR) admitted that historic scans of passports, national insurance cards and visa documents, as well as patient photos, health questionnaires and medical history documents, were stolen on March 14th.

The ‘Maze’ group of hackers claimed the responsibility for the attack and even published some of the medical records on the dark web, with the lab turning to Britain's National Cyber Security Centre for help.

As further investigation suggested, hackers linked to the Kremlin and Russian security services are based in Georgia. One source claimed that hackers demanded ?2 million, in exchange for the details, but even offered the company a ‘discount’ in case they found a cure for the virus.

The member of the United National Movement, Khatia Dekanoidze responded to the article by saying that, there are hacker groups operating in Georgia and either State Security Service knows nothing about it or deliberately promotes creating Georgia as a platform for Russian hybrid warfare.

In the briefing, Dekanoidze accused the government of funding anti-western indoctrination. As she said, the hybrid warfare conducted by Putin, the Kremlin and Russian special services against the West is a significant threat to the civilised world. What she finds especially alarming is that the newspaper precisely referred to the hacker group as based in Georgia. According to her, this will deeply damage our country’s national interests as well as its Euroatlantic aspiration.

One of the leaders of political unity Lelo for Georgia, Saba Buadze responded to the Daily Mail article as well. As he said, nowadays the rate of clearance of cyber crimes is low, and a lot of hacker attacks remain uninvestigated, including attacks on government facilities, banking sector, and personal information of citizens. Buadze finds it very important strategic documents and criminal law policies to be reviewed as well as financing of the cybersecurity field to be enhanced.

On the other side, the members of the Georgian Dream question the authenticity of the information published by the Daily Mail.

As the vice-speaker of the parliament Gia volski assessed, “this is a tale that even kids do not believe in.” He also stated that the quality of relationship and co-working between Georgian and British/western special services assures the absence of unshared information between them.

The chairperson of Defence And Security Committee, Irakli Sesiashvili noted that relevant authorities of Georgia have a tight partnership with British colleagues and they actively assisted Georgia in times when Russia conducted a cyber-attack on Georgia.

As Sesiashvili stated, since Georgian agencies would not miss this kind of information, Daily Mail must have released unconfirmed information.