Russian hackers were planning to attack the 2020 Tokyo Olympic games, according to the UK

By Isobel Asher Hamilton

State-backed Russian hackers were planning to attack the 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo before it was postponed, the UK announced on Monday.

"Russia's military intelligence service, the GRU, conducted cyber reconnaissance against officials and organisations at the 2020 Olympic and Paralympic Games due to take place in Tokyo this summer before they were postponed," the UK government said in a press statement.

"The targets included the Games' organisers, logistics services, and sponsors," it added.

The UK's revelation came the same day the Department of Justice (DOJ) indicted six Russian officials for orchestrating a string of cyberattacks. Some of the officials were involved in attacks on the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea, the DOJ said.

The UK's statement contained more details of the attacks on the 2018 Winter Olympics and Paralympic Games. 

GRU officers reportedly tried to disguise themselves as North Korean and Chinese hackers when targeting the 2018 opening ceremony, the UK government said.

They then spread their net broader, targeting games officials, broadcasters, and even a ski resort, it added.

Britain's National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) found the hackers were using a malware designed to mass-delete data, suggesting the hackers' aim was sabotage. 

"The GRU's actions against the Olympic and Paralympic Games are cynical and reckless. We condemn them in the strongest possible terms. The UK will continue to work with our allies to call out and counter future malicious cyber attacks," UK Foreign Minister Dominic Raab said. 

Business Insider contacted the Russian Embassy in the UK for comment.

The delayed Tokyo 2020 games are scheduled to begin on July 23, 2021. The vice-president of the International Olympic Committee said last month they will be going ahead on that date "with or without COVID."