The targets: The attacks were aimed at at least “16 national and international sporting and anti-doping organizations across three continents” and began in mid-September, according to a blog post from Microsoft, whose security researchers detected the attacks. Several were successful, but most were not. The hackers used tactics like spear-phishing, password spraying, and exploiting internet-connected devices.
Repeat offenders: The hacking group responsible, known widely as Fancy Bear or Strontium, is a unit of Russia’s military intelligence agency, the GRU. It was most famously responsible for attacks against the Democratic National Committee during the 2016 American election. But its résumé stretches back far longer: Ukraine, NATO, French television, and American think tanks have all been victims.
Olympic grievances: The attacks, Microsoft notes, began days before the World Anti-Doping Agency threatened to ban Russian athletes from the Olympics and other major sporting events. Fancy Bear launched repeated successful cyberattacks against the 2018 Winter Olympics after the Russian team was suspended from it, also over doping charges.
That campaign included internet disruptions during the opening ceremony of the games, leaked emails, a global disinformation operation, and broad infections and theft of data from Olympic Games systems.