Russian Hackers May Have Hit GOP Too

The hackers that attacked several prominent Democratic organizations may have also set their sights on GOP targets.

The hackers are suspected to be linked to Russian intelligence services. A leak of 300 supposedly Republican emails on a small website purported to be from the campaigns of Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz) and Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.)—both stalwart critics of Russian president Vladimir Putin. Also included are emails from 2012 GOP presidential candidate Michele Bachmann and various state party officials in several states.

Researchers at ThreatConnect said that the site, DCLeaks, has likely ties with Moscow-backed hackers. The crime website Smoking Gun said that it connected the site to Guccifer 2.0, the anonymous organization that claimed responsibility for the DNC intrusion—a link that ThreatConnect examined in depth.

“We believe DC Leaks is another Russian-backed influence outlet,” the firm said in a blog post, noting Guccifer 2.0’s use of DCLeaks to share purloined emails from a Hillary Clinton campaign staffer with journalists. It is also hosting a portfolio of leaked emails belonging to Billy Rinehart Jr.—a regional field director for the DNC, who was compromised using a Russian technique known as Fancy Bear. Also, DCLeaks’ registration and hosting information aligns with other Fancy Bear activities and known tactics, techniques and procedures, researchers noted.

“Russia’s Guccifer 2.0 denial and deception campaign had evolved into an active measures campaign, or influence operation, by posting thousands of compromised DNC files to WikiLeaks,” the researchers said. “DCLeaks provides Russia with another platform that they can use to hide their hand and conduct influence operations in the US. Such operations may ultimately help Russia sway public opinion or media coverage in a way that benefits Moscow. Irrespective of what Russia ultimately hopes to achieve, the very fact that a foreign actor is attempting to influence the US election should prompt every voter to carefully inspect and weigh all of the data, all of the variables, and all of the facts that enter into their personal decision making process.”

Photo © Viacheslav Lopatin

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