NYTimes: Kremlin Likely Behind the Attack

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The cyber-attack that targeted the New York Times’ Moscow bureau earlier this month is now suspected to have been carried out by hackers tied to the Russian military.

The Times reports that officials say the effort was likely the work of two Russian intelligence agencies: the FSB (the successor to the KGB) and the GRU, Russia’s top military intelligence unit. These are the same threat actors behind a string of state-sponsored Russian cyber-espionage. The Federal Bureau of Investigation is also investigating breaches at the Democratic National Committee and the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee fundraising group.

Though the offensive was targeted and well-planned, the hackers are believed to have been thwarted in their efforts, according to Times spokeswoman Eileen Murphy.

“We are constantly monitoring our systems with the latest available intelligence and tools,” she said. “We have seen no evidence that any of our internal systems, including our systems in the Moscow bureau, have been breached or compromised.” She added that The Times didn’t feel that hiring external security experts for an investigation was necessary.

CNN originally reported that The Times, along with other unnamed news organizations, had become targets for Russian intelligence, according to sources inside the US government, and that the Federal Bureau of Investigation has launched an investigation, lending credence to the claim. Kelly Langmesser, a spokeswoman for the agency, said the FBI had no comment on the developments.

Former counterterrorism adviser to the White House Richard Clarke told ABC News, “Russian intelligence wants to know what the New York Times is going to write before it writes it. They hack into political parties, into government agencies, into newspapers, to find out what they know about Russia, to find out what they’re thinking about Russia, and to find out who their sources are in Russia.”

While off-the-record sources have confirmed evidence pointing to the Kremlin as being behind the attacks, the official stance of the US government on the attacks has not included attribution—so far. However, in a forum about what role cyber-tools should play in the United States at the Aspen Security Forum in July, John Carlin, the US Assistant Attorney General for National Security, said that could soon change.

“You haven’t seen a public action against Russia,” he said. “But it would be a mistake for them to assume that we are not going to apply this deterrence model when it comes to their action if they continue to intrude.”

Photo © Serhil Ostapenko/Shutterstock.com

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