Hit list exposes Russian hacking beyond US elections

  • The hackers who meddled within the US election did not simply
    goal Hillary Clinton, US Republicans, figures in Ukraine,
    Georgia, and nearly anybody who opposed Russian President
    Vladimir Putin was focused.
  • The hackers focused the inboxes of four,700 Gmail customers
    across the globe. Even accessing a small fraction of those
    accounts might yield enormous hauls of compromising information.
  • During the debates, President Donald Trump stated the
    hacks could have been finished by “somebody sitting on their mattress
    that weighs 400 kilos,” however the quantity of effort on this hack
    proves that may’t be the case.

Russian President Vladimir Putin arrives to meet with members of the Presidential Council for Civil Society and Human Rights at the Kremlin in Moscow, Russia October 30, 2017. REUTERS/Kirill Kudryavtsev/Pool
President Vladimir Putin arrives to fulfill with members of the
Presidential Council for Civil Society and Human Rights on the
Kremlin in Moscow


WASHINGTON (AP) — The hackers who upended the U.S. presidential
election had ambitions properly past Hillary Clinton’s marketing campaign,
focusing on the emails of Ukrainian officers, Russian opposition
figures, U.S. protection contractors and hundreds of others of
curiosity to the Kremlin, in line with a beforehand unpublished
digital hit listing obtained by The Associated Press.

The listing supplies probably the most detailed forensic proof but of the
shut alignment between the hackers and the Russian authorities,
exposing an operation that stretched again years and tried to
break into the inboxes of four,700 Gmail customers throughout the globe —
from the pope’s consultant in Kiev to the punk band Pussy
Riot in Moscow.

“It’s a want listing of who you’d wish to goal to additional Russian
pursuits,” stated Keir Giles, director of the Conflict Studies
Research Center in Cambridge, England, and considered one of 5 outdoors
specialists who reviewed the AP’s findings. He stated the info was “a
grasp listing of people whom Russia want to spy on,
embarrbad, discredit or silence.”

The AP findings draw on a database of 19,000 malicious hyperlinks
collected by cybersecurity agency Secureworks, dozens of rogue
emails, and interviews with greater than 100 hacking targets.

Secureworks stumbled upon the info after a hacking group generally known as
Fancy Bear by chance uncovered a part of its phishing operation to
the web. The listing revealed a direct line between the hackers
and the leaks that rocked the presidential contest in its closing
phases, most notably the personal emails of Clinton marketing campaign
chairman John Podesta.

The subject of who hacked the Democrats is again within the nationwide
highlight following the revelation Monday Donald Trump
marketing campaign official, George Papadopoulos, was briefed early final
yr that the Russians had “dirt” on Clinton, together with
“thousands of emails.”

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov referred to as the notion that Russia
interfered “unfounded.” But the listing examined by AP supplies
highly effective proof that the Kremlin did simply that.

“This is the Kremlin and the general staff,” stated Andras Racz, a
specialist in Russian safety coverage at Pazmany Peter Catholic
University in Hungary, as he examined the info.

“I have no doubts.”

The new proof

fancy bear website
screenshot of the Fancy Bears web site fancybear.web seen on a
computes display screen in Moscow, Russia, Wednesday, Sept. 14,

Associated Press/Alexander

Secureworks’ listing covers the interval between March 2015 and May
2016. Most of the recognized targets have been within the United States,
Ukraine, Russia, Georgia and Syria.

In the United States, which was Russia’s Cold War rival, Fancy
Bear tried to pry open a minimum of 573 inboxes belonging to these in
the highest echelons of the nation’s diplomatic and safety
providers: then-Secretary of State John Kerry, former Secretary of
State Colin Powell, then-NATO Supreme Commander, U.S. Air Force
Gen. Philip Breedlove, and considered one of his predecessors, U.S. Army
Gen. Wesley Clark.

The listing skewed towards employees for protection contractors reminiscent of
Boeing, Raytheon and Lockheed Martin or senior intelligence
figures, outstanding Russia watchers and — particularly — Democrats.
More than 130 occasion employees, marketing campaign staffers and supporters of
the occasion have been focused, together with Podesta and different members of
Clinton’s interior circle.

The AP additionally discovered a handful of Republican targets.

Podesta, Powell, Breedlove and greater than a dozen Democratic
targets moreover Podesta would quickly discover their personal
correspondence dumped to the net. The AP has decided that each one
had been focused by Fancy Bear, most of them three to seven
months earlier than the leaks.

“They got two years of email,” Powell just lately informed AP. He stated
that whereas he could not know for positive who was accountable, “I
all the time suspected some Russian connection.”

In Ukraine, which is combating a grinding conflict towards
Russia-backed separatists, Fancy Bear tried to interrupt into at
least 545 accounts, together with these of President Petro Poroshenko
and his son Alexei, half a dozen present and former ministers
reminiscent of Interior Minister Arsen Avakov and as many as two dozen
present and former lawmakers.

The listing contains Serhiy Leshchenko, an opposition
parliamentarian who helped uncover the off-the-books funds
allegedly made to Trump marketing campaign chairman Paul Manafort — whose
indictment was unsealed Monday in Washington.

Russian exile, Mikhail Khodorkovsky, delivers a speech at Chatham House in central London, February 26, 2015.  REUTERS/Toby Melville
exile, Khodorkovsky, delivers a speech in central


In Russia, Fancy Bear centered on authorities opponents and dozens
of journalists. Among the targets have been oil tycoon-turned-Kremlin
foe Mikhail Khodorkovsky, who spent a decade in jail and now
lives in exile, and Pussy Riot’s Maria Alekhina. Along with them
have been 100 extra civil society figures, together with anti-corruption
campaigner Alexei Navalny and his lieutenants.

“Everything on this list fits,” stated Vasily Gatov, a Russian
media badyst who was himself among the many targets. He stated Russian
authorities would have been notably serious about Navalny,
one of many few opposition leaders with a nationwide following.

Many of the targets have little in frequent besides that they’d
have been crossing the Kremlin’s radar: an environmental activist
within the distant Russian port metropolis of Murmansk; a small political
journal in Armenia; the Vatican’s consultant in Kiev; an
grownup training group in Kazakhstan.

“It’s merely exhausting to see how some other nation can be
notably serious about their actions,” stated Michael
Kofman, an knowledgeable on Russian navy affairs on the Woodrow
Wilson International Center in Washington. He was additionally on the

“If you’re not Russia,” he stated, “hacking these folks is a
colossal waste of time.”

Working 9 to six Moscow time

red square russia moscow
stroll in Red Square, with St. Basil’s Cathedral seen within the
background, in central Moscow February 6, 2015.

Maxim Zmeyev/Reuters

Allegations that Fancy Bear works for Russia aren’t new. But uncooked
information has been exhausting to return by.

Researchers have been documenting the group’s actions for extra
than a decade and plenty of have accused it of being an extension of
Russia’s intelligence providers. The “Fancy Bear” nickname is a
none-too-subtle reference to Russia’s nationwide image.

In the wake of the 2016 election, U.S. intelligence businesses
publicly endorsed the consensus view, saying what American spooks
had lengthy alleged privately: Fancy Bear is a creature of the

But the U.S. intelligence neighborhood offered little proof, and
even media-friendly cybersecurity corporations usually publish
solely summaries of their information.

That makes the Secureworks’ database a key piece of public
proof — all of the extra outstanding as a result of it is the results of a
careless mistake.

Secureworks successfully stumbled throughout it when a researcher
started working backward from a server tied to considered one of Fancy Bear’s
signature items of malicious software program.

He discovered a hyperactive Bitly account Fancy Bear was utilizing to
sneak hundreds of malicious hyperlinks previous Google’s spam filter.
Because Fancy Bear forgot to set the account to non-public,
Secureworks spent the following few months hovering over the group’s
shoulder, quietly copying down the small print of the hundreds of
emails it was focusing on.

The AP obtained the info just lately, boiling it all the way down to four,700
particular person e-mail addresses, after which connecting roughly half to
account holders. The AP validated the listing by working it towards
a pattern of phishing emails obtained from folks focused and
evaluating it to related rosters gathered independently by different
cybersecurity corporations, reminiscent of Tokyo-based Trend Micro and the
Slovakian agency ESET.

The Secureworks information allowed reporters to find out that extra
than 95 % of the malicious hyperlinks have been generated throughout
Moscow workplace hours — between 9 a.m. and 6 p.m. Monday to Friday.

The AP’s findings additionally observe with a report that first introduced
Fancy Bear to the eye of American voters. In 2016, a
cybersecurity firm generally known as CrowdStrike stated the Democratic
National Committee had been compromised by Russian hackers,
together with Fancy Bear.

Secureworks’ roster exhibits Fancy Bear making aggressive makes an attempt
to hack into DNC technical staffers’ emails in early April 2016 —
precisely when CrowdStrike says the hackers broke in.

And the uncooked information enabled the AP to talk on to the folks
who have been focused, a lot of whom pointed the finger on the

“We have no doubts about who is behind these attacks,” stated Artem
Torchinskiy, a mission coordinator with Navalny’s Anti-Corruption
Fund who was focused 3 times in 2015. “I’m positive these are
hackers managed by Russian secret providers.”

The fantasy of the 400-pound man

trump clinton debate
presidential nominee Donald Trump speaks Democratic presidential
nominee Hillary Clinton listens in the course of the second presidential
debate at Washington University in St. Louis, Sunday, Oct. 9,

Saul Loeb/AP

Even if solely a small fraction of the four,700 Gmail accounts
focused by Fancy Bear have been hacked efficiently, the info drawn
from them might run into terabytes — simply rivaling the largest
identified leaks in journalistic historical past.

For the hackers to have made sense of that mountain of messages —
in English, Ukrainian, Russian, Georgian, Arabic and plenty of different
languages — they’d have wanted a considerable group of badysts
and translators. Merely figuring out and sorting the targets took
six AP reporters eight weeks of labor.

The AP’s effort affords “just a little really feel for a way a lot labor went
into this,” stated Thomas Rid, a professor of strategic research at
Johns Hopkins University’s School of Advanced International

He stated the investigation ought to put to relaxation any theories like
the one then-candidate Donald Trump floated final yr that the
hacks may very well be the work of “somebody sitting on their mattress that
weighs 400 kilos.”

“The notion that it is only a lone hacker someplace is totally
absurd,” Rid stated.



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