This Is the New Leader of Russia’s Infamous Sandworm Hacking Unit
Evgenii Serebriakov runs the GRU's most aggressive hacking team
For years, the hacking unit within Russia's GRU military intelligence agency known as Sandworm has carried out some of the worst cyberattacks in history—blackouts, fake ransomware, data-destroying worms—from behind a carefully maintained veil of anonymity. But after half a decade of the spy agency's botched operations, blown cover stories and international indictments, perhaps it's no surprise that pulling the mask off the man leading that highly destructive hacking group today reveals a familiar face.
The commander of Sandworm, the notorious division of the agency's hacking forces responsible for many of the GRU's most aggressive campaigns of cyberwar and sabotage, is now an official named Evgenii Serebriakov, according to sources from a Western intelligence service who spoke to WIRED on the condition of anonymity. If that name rings a bell, it may be because Serebriakov was indicted, along with six other GRU agents, after being caught in the midst of a close-range cyberespionage operation in the Netherlands in 2018 that targeted the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons in the Hague.
In that foiled operation, Dutch law enforcement didn't just identify and arrest Serebriakov and his team, who were part of a different GRU unit generally known as Fancy Bear or APT28. They also seized Serebriakov’s backpack full of technical equipment, as well as his laptop and other hacking devices in his team’s rental car. As a result, Dutch and US investigators were able to piece together Serebriakov's travels and past operations stretching back years and, given his newer role, now know in unusual detail the career history of a rising GRU official.
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