Chemical weapons watchdog says target of growing cyber activities

2 min

The Hague (AFP)

The world's chemical weapons watchdog said Thursday it has suffered "increased cyber-related activities" since the start of the year, after a bombshell revelation that it was targeted by Russian intelligence agency hackers.

"The OPCW takes very seriously the security of its information systems and networks," the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons said.

"Since early 2018, the organisation has observed increased cyber-related activities," the OPCW added in a statement issued at its headquarters in The Hague.

Dutch security services said earlier they had thwarted a cyber attack on the global chemical weapons watchdog, on a day in which the West blamed Moscow for some of the biggest hacking plots in years.

The Netherlands expelled four alleged Russian agents in April after uncovering a spy-novel-style bid by Russia's GRU military intelligence agency to target the OPCW.

The allegation came hours after Britain and Australia separately blamed the GRU for some major hacking plots including the US Democratic Party and world sport's anti-doping authority.

"The OPCW thanks the Netherlands for its actions and will remain in contact in regards to any further developments," the OPCW said.

In the Dutch case, the Russians allegedly set up a car full of electronic equipment in the car park of a Marriott hotel next to the OPCW and tried to hack its wifi system and computer passwords.

At the time of the attack, the OPCW was investigating the nerve agent poisoning of former Russian spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia in England.

Russian President Vladimir Putin has repeatedly and angrily rejected similar charges.