WASHINGTON — The hackers did not simply go after Hillary Clinton’s presidential marketing campaign.
They tried to interrupt into the personal e mail of the sitting U.S. secretary of state, tried to steal the personal correspondence of a supervisor engaged on Lockheed Martin’s stealth fighter program, and sought to interrupt into the accounts of 1000’s of others, together with the punk band Pussy Riot and Russian opposition chief Alexei Navalny.
About 19,000 strains of information, not too long ago shared by cybersecurity agency Secureworks, present that Fancy Bear — the hacking group blamed by U.S. intelligence companies for disrupting final 12 months’s presidential election – tried to interrupt into greater than four,700 Gmail inboxes between March 2015 and Might 2016.
It is successfully a success checklist — one which consultants say factors to the Kremlin.
“There is just one nation whose pursuits this checklist would serve,” mentioned Keir Giles, the director of the Battle Research Analysis Heart in Cambridge, England, and considered one of 5 consultants who reviewed the AP’s findings.
“Whatever the inevitable denials from Moscow, it’s the solely clarification that is sensible,” he mentioned.
Russian officers have described claims that they orchestrated the hacking as “ludicrous” and “verging on fantasy.” On Wednesday, Russian Deputy International Minister Sergei Ryabkov mentioned there was “not a single piece of proof” to again the allegations.
However the Fancy Bear targets recognized by the AP inform a special story. In additional than 100 interviews, many blamed Moscow for the hacking.
“We’ve no doubts about who’s behind these assaults,” mentioned Artem Torchinskiy, a Navalny lieutenant who was focused by Fancy Bear in 2015. “I’m positive these are hackers managed by Russian secret companies.”
The biggest teams of targets have been in america, Ukraine, Russia, Georgia and Syria. The hackers tried to compromise workers of main U.S. protection contractors and tried to steal the emails of greater than 130 Democrats and members of Clinton’s internal circle, together with her marketing campaign chairman, John Podesta, whose correspondence was leaked within the closing days of the presidential race. Others focused embrace then-Secretary of State John Kerry and former U.S. Military Gen. Wesley Clark.
Additionally they tried to hack a swath of Ukrainian politicians, together with Serhiy Leshchenko, who helped uncover the off-the-books. Islamist rebels combating the Russia-backed authorities of Syrian President Bashar Assad have been focused, too, as was Pussy Riot’s Maria Alekhina.
Vasily Gatov, a U.S.-based Russian media analyst who was amongst these focused by Fancy Bear, mentioned the checklist supplies a world context to the hack of the Democrats in early 2016.
“It enhances the puzzle,” mentioned Gatov, who was initially skeptical of the concept that Russian intelligence had singled out the Democrats.
“Now I am satisfied.”
Allegations that Fancy Bear works for Russia aren’t new. However uncooked knowledge has been laborious to return by. The U.S. intelligence group has made little proof obtainable publicly.
The hit checklist made its technique to AP after Secureworks stumbled upon a Bitly account being utilized by Fancy Bear to craft its malicious emails.
Over the course of its reporting, the AP discovered a direct line from Fancy Bear to the leaks that rocked the presidential contest in its last phases. All of the Democrats whose personal correspondence was revealed within the run-up to the election had beforehand been focused by Fancy Bear both at their skilled Gmail addresses or via the Democratic Nationwide Committee, the AP discovered.
Even when solely a fraction of the four,700 Gmail accounts focused by Fancy Bear have been efficiently hacked, the info drawn from them may run into terabytes – placing the operation in the identical league as a few of the largest leaks in journalistic historical past.
Merely figuring out and sorting the targets took a crew of six AP reporters eight weeks.
The AP’s effort provides “slightly really feel for the way a lot labor went into this” hacking endeavor, mentioned Thomas Rid, a professor of strategic research at Johns Hopkins College’s College of Superior Worldwide Research.
He mentioned the investigation ought to put to relaxation any theories just like the one then-candidate Donald Trump floated final 12 months that the hacks could possibly be the work of “somebody sitting on their mattress that weighs 400 kilos.”
“The notion that it is only a lone hacker someplace is completely absurd,” mentioned Rid.