Investigators have disclosed that Russian military intelligence hackers attempted to obtain information on the probe into the destruction of Malaysia Airlines flight MH17.
The revelation was made on 4 October during a broader Dutch defence ministry briefing on disrupting a Russian cyberattack against the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons earlier this year.
UK ambassador to the Netherlands Peter Wilson said that this attack was “not an isolated act”, and that the military unit involved – known as unit 26165 – had sent officers to other locations around the world to conduct “brazen, close-access cyber operations”.
One of its officers, says Wilson, had also conducted “malign activity” in Malaysia.
“This [military intelligence] operation was trying to collect information on the MH17 investigation,” he says, adding that its target included Malaysian government institutions such as the attorney general’s office and the country’s police force.
Flight MH17, operated by a Boeing 777-200ER, was shot down over eastern Ukraine in July 2014, with the loss of all on board.
Investigators have concluded that it was attacked with a Russian-built surface-to-air missile, and a criminal probe has been working to identify the perpetrators.