Russian nesting dolls
Image: Alina Grubnyak on Unsplash

Dutch intelligence apprehended four Russian hackers, associated with the Russian secret service unit GRU, in the process of trying to hack into the OPCW, the international organisation keeping an eye on the use of chemical weapons. Apart from being a job well done, the Dutch operation also gives us some insight into the way the Russian cyber operatives go about their business.

Pictures provided by the Dutch Ministry of Defence show that the GRU operatives rented a car and hid all kinds of computer and network equipment in the trunk. Then they quietly parked the car next to the OPCW building, putting them in a good spot to intercept the organisation’s WiFi communications and allowing them to try to hack into the network.

Their equipment included a computer with an extra battery to power everything, connected to a cellphone, an extra powerful WiFi antenna hidden under a coat as well as a WiFi pineapple. This device, that you can buy online for about $100 dollars (though I’m unsure whether GRU would allow for the budget to get the optional morale patch)  is essentially a WiFi access point that is specifically equipped to listen in on WiFi traffic in the area.

If there’s a lesson to be learned: if you see four guys in a Citroën C3 parked around the corner, double-check to make sure you’re still connected to the right access point!