October 19, 2020

FBI Deputy Director David Bowdich’s Remarks at Press Conference Announcing Cyber-Related Indictment of Six Russian Intelligence Officers

FBI Deputy Director David Bowdich delivered the following remarks during a press conference in Washington, D.C., with other Department of Justice officials announcing charges against six members of the GRU—Russia’s military intelligence agency—in connection with the worldwide deployment of destructive malware and other disruptive actions. (Remarks as delivered)

Good afternoon.

We’re here to turn a spotlight on the numerous, destructive cyber attacks which are perpetrated by the GRU—which as you heard is Russia’s military intelligence agency. This activity went well beyond traditional intelligence collection. The GRU targeted the global energy sector, international political groups, hospitals, and even the Olympics.

Time and again, Russia has made it clear they will not abide by accepted norms, and instead, they intend to continue their destructive and destabilizing cyber behavior. Of course, this threat is not new. We’ve been fighting the cyber threat for years now, addressing hack after hack, as our adversaries continue to escalate their crimes and use their capabilities not just to gather intelligence, but also to disrupt, degrade, and destroy.

We investigate one major hack, only to uncover another one. We are particularly concerned when nation-state adversaries target our critical infrastructure and our intellectual property, both here at home and abroad. These actors we’re talking about today are alleged to have developed and deployed the NotPetya destructive malware, which wreaked havoc across the entire globe.

NotPetya is considered one of the most destructive cyber attacks ever. Victims included a hospital in Pennsylvania, as you heard already. The cyber attack crippled that hospital’s operations. I'll not repeat what the U.S. attorney went through earlier, but in the end, as he mentioned, that included more than $2 million in damages to a hospital in the state of Pennsylvania.

The indictment also alleges this group was responsible for the Olympic Destroyer malware, which knocked the official 2018 Winter Olympics website offline and prohibited attendees from even being able to gain their event tickets.

These actors conducted these brazen attacks from the safety of their own country, but that does not mean that we should not and will not pursue them and hold them accountable. Whether you’re a cyber criminal turning profit from hacking or a Russian military intelligence officer who's intent on taking down infrastructure, these attacks will not be tolerated.

We will continue to work in tandem with our partners to impose risks and consequences on these actors however we can—whether it’s through indictments or other means. In this case, we brought the investigative resources and expertise of three different field offices, as you heard earlier—the Pittsburgh Field Office of the FBI, the Atlanta Field Office of the FBI, and Oklahoma City Field Office of the FBI. We brought them all together to attribute these attacks to the GRU.

We also want to thank this nation’s tech giants, including Google, Cisco, Facebook, and Twitter, for all stepping up and helping us with this investigation. This is more common that we work hand in hand with our private sector partners today than ever before. We’re going to continue to work together with our partners both at home and abroad, in law enforcement and in the private sector, to stop brazen cyber crime and hold these people accountable.

One thing I do want to take time to do is to thank the FBI agents and analysts and those employees that worked very diligently on this investigation. I also want to take the time to thank all the assistant United States attorneys, and from a Headquarters perspective, the Department of Justice here, and the FBI Headquarters Cyber Division personnel who worked very tirelessly on this investigation.

These investigations, as I've mentioned before, they are arduous, and they take diligence and they take tenacity to get them over the finish line. We're not yet there, but we are to the point of indictment. And that's why we're here today. The cyber threat continues to be daunting, but when we bring the right people, the right tools, and the right authorities, our adversaries, we believe, are no match to what we can accomplish together.