CSE Statement on Malicious Russian Cyber Activity Targeting Georgia

Cyber security is one of the most serious economic and national security challenges facing Canada and its allies. The Government of Canada, through the joint efforts of the Communications Security Establishment (CSE), its Canadian Centre for Cyber Security (Cyber Centre), and other departments and agencies, is working to create a safer and more secure cyber space for all.

Today, many of Canada’s allies and partners have made statements attributing malicious cyber activity to Russia. These attacks did not occur in isolation, but rather, are part of a concerted effort by the Russian Government to sow discord in advance of Georgia’s 2020 parliamentary elections. This assessment is consistent with our analysis.

On October 28, 2019, the cyber units of Russia’s military intelligence agency: the GRU carried out a large scale disruptive cyber attack against a range of Georgian web hosting providers and media companies that resulted in widespread defacements and the failure of thousands of websites, including sites belonging to the Georgian government, courts, NGOs, media, and businesses. These disruptive operations also interrupted the service of several national broadcasters. CSE assesses that actors almost certainly sponsored by the GRU, Russia’s military intelligence service, carried out this series of disruptive cyber attacks against Georgia up to and on October 28, 2019. The GRU cyber unit responsible for these disruptions is known in open source as the Sandworm Team/BlackEnergy Group.

As previously stated, the Government of Canada strongly opposes the use of cyberspace for reckless and malicious cyber activities. We remain committed to working with our allies and partners to maintain the open, reliable, and secure use of cyberspace.

CSE published a 2019 update to its report on Cyber Threats to Canada’s Democratic Process. This report describes how foreign cyber interference – interference activity enabled by cyber tools – is becoming a more common type of cyber threat activity against democratic processes worldwide.

Cyber security remains a team effort, and the Cyber Centre always takes the opportunity to invite individual Canadians to read and follow its Advice and Guidance for important tips that will help protect against cyber threats. Canada will continue to work with its allies to address malicious cyber activity and protect Canada’s national and economic security.