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The Sandworm team of Russian military intelligence, alleged to have unleashed computer chaos against the Kremlin’s enemies around the world, is said to operate out of a blue-tinted glass skyscraper known simply as “the tower”.
From that address, 22 Kirova Street in the Moscow suburb of Khimki, the Sandworm hackers, also known more prosaically as the unit 74455 and “the main centre for special technologies”, launched attacks on the Ukrainian power system, Emmanuel Macron’s presidential bid in France in 2017, the South Korean Olympics in 2018 and the UK investigation into the 2018 Russian nerve agent attack in Salisbury.
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Photograph: Jonathan Nackstrand/AFP/Getty Images
According to cyber security experts, the same unit was involved in the hacking of the Democratic National Committee and Hillary Clinton’s election campaign in 2016, disguised as a hacktivist group dubbed Fancy Bear.
On Monday, US and UK authorities accused the unit
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Travelex didn’t pay the ransom this time and instead weathered a DDoS attack the hackers launched as a sort of warning shot and then a second barrage. “Whoever’s behind this probably thought that Travelex must be a soft target based on what happened at the beginning of the year,” says Greg Otto, a researcher at Intel471. “But why would you hit a company that has probably gone through the effort to shore up their security? I understand the logic, but also I just think there are holes in that logic.” Travelex did not return a request from WIRED for comment about the August extortion attempt.
Extortion DDoS attacks have never been especially profitable for scammers, because they don’t have the visceral urgency of something like ransomware, when the target is already hobbled and may be desperate to restore access. And though this has always been a weakness of the strategy,