For years, the hacking unit inside Russia’s GRU army intelligence company referred to as Sandworm has performed one of the crucial worst cyberattacks in historical past—blackouts, faux ransomware, data-destroying worms—from at the back of a sparsely maintained veil of anonymity. However after part a decade of the undercover agent company’s botched operations, blown duvet tales, and global indictments, most likely it is no wonder that pulling the masks off the person main that extremely unfavorable hacking crew lately unearths a well-recognized face.

The passport Evgenii Serebriakov used to go into the Netherlands in 2018.

{Photograph}: Division of Justice

The commander of Sandworm, the infamous department of the company’s hacking forces accountable for lots of the GRU’s maximum competitive campaigns of cyberwar and sabotage, is now an respectable named Evgenii Serebriakov, consistent with resources from a Western intelligence provider who spoke to WIRED at the situation of anonymity. If that title rings a bell, it can be as a result of Serebriakov used to be indicted, together with six different GRU brokers, after being stuck in the middle of a close-range cyberespionage operation within the Netherlands in 2018 that centered the Group for the Prohibition of Chemical Guns within the Hague.

In that foiled operation, Dutch regulation enforcement did not simply determine and arrest Serebriakov and his staff, who have been a part of a special GRU unit normally referred to as Fancy Undergo or APT28. In addition they seized Serebriakov’s backpack filled with technical apparatus, in addition to his pc and different hacking gadgets in his staff’s condo automobile. Consequently, Dutch and US investigators have been ready to piece in combination Serebriakov’s travels and previous operations stretching again years and, given his more moderen position, now know in bizarre element the profession historical past of a emerging GRU respectable.

In line with the intelligence provider resources, Serebriakov used to be positioned answerable for Sandworm within the spring of 2022 after serving as deputy commander of APT28, and now holds the rank of colonel. Christo Grozev, the lead Russia-focused investigator for open supply intelligence outlet Bellingcat, has additionally famous Serebriakov’s upward push: Round 2020, Grozev says, Serebriakov started receiving telephone calls from GRU generals who, within the company’s strict hierarchy, most effective discuss to higher-level officers. Grozev, who says he purchased the telephone records from a Russian black marketplace supply, says he additionally noticed the GRU agent’s quantity seem within the telephone information of every other robust army unit keen on counterintelligence. “I noticed he will have to be in a command place,” says Grozev. “He can not simply be a normal hacker anymore.”

The truth that Serebriakov seems to have attained that place regardless of having been prior to now known and indicted within the failed Netherlands operation means that he will have to have important worth to the GRU—that he is “it seems that too just right to offload,” Grozev provides.

Serebriakov’s new place main Sandworm—formally GRU Unit 74455 but additionally identified by way of the nicknames Voodoo Undergo and Iridium—places him answerable for a bunch of hackers who’re most likely the sector’s maximum prolific practitioners of cyberwar. (They have got additionally dabbled in espionage and disinformation campaigns.) Since 2015, Sandworm has led the Russian govt’s remarkable marketing campaign of cyberattacks on Ukraine: It penetrated electrical utilities in western Ukraine and Kyiv to reason the first- and second-ever blackouts precipitated by way of hackers and centered Ukrainian govt companies, banks, and media with numerous data-destructive malware operations. In 2017, Sandworm launched NotPetya, a work of self-replicating code that unfold to networks international and inflicted a document $10 billion in harm. Sandworm then went directly to sabotage the 2018 Iciness Olympics in Korea and assault TV broadcasters within the country of Georgia in 2019, a surprising document of reckless hacking.

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