The FBI has confirmed that it is investigating a hack of DNC servers which the Clinton camp believes was carried out by hackers connected to the Russian government. From CNN:
“The FBI is investigating a cyber intrusion involving the DNC and are working to determine the nature and scope of the matter,” the agency said in a statement. “A compromise of this nature is something we take very seriously, and the FBI will continue to investigate and hold accountable those who pose a threat in cyberspace.”
The suspected Russian hack is part of a wave of Russian cyber attacks aimed at political organizations and academic think tanks in Washington, US officials briefed on the investigations say.
Over the weekend, Wikileaks began publishing emails from the DNC. The group didn’t identify the source. But the campaign of presumptive Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton pointed the finger at Russia, saying the release of stolen emails was intended to help Republican nominee Donald Trump.
In this case, the fact that the Clinton camp is pushing this theory for political cover shouldn’t lead you to dismiss the likelihood that Russian hackers are responsible. A month ago, before Wikileaks had published the emails that led to Debbie Wasserman-Schultz ouster, the Washington Post reported that two private firms hired by the Democrats to investigate the breach had separately concluded Russian hackers were behind it. But there is an additional wrinkle in this story. One day after a DNC hired firms announced its findings a hacker calling himself Guccifer 2.0 claimed that he had hacked the DNC. From the Post:
The DNC had hired the cybersecurity firm CrowdStrike to investigate the breach, and the firm found that two Russian hacker groups penetrated the network at different times.
Guccifer 2.0’s claim came a day after the DNC acknowledged the intrusion and CrowdStrike announced its findings in a blog post. The hacker posted documents to a website that appeared to have been stolen from the DNC…
Analysts suspect but don’t have hard evidence that Guccifer 2.0 is, in fact, part of one of the Russian groups who hacked the DNC.
And that’s really the question. Is Guccifer 2.0 really an independent Romanian hacker or just a distraction created by government backed Russian hackers as a way to politically launder this material. The Clinton camp thinks the answer is the latter and they may be right.
Julian Assange, the founder of Wikileaks, gave an interview to Democracy Now Monday during which he was asked about the source of the leaked material. Here is what he said:
In relation to sourcing, I can say some things. A, we never reveal our sources, obviously. That’s what we pride ourselves on. And we won’t in this case, either. But no one knows who our source is. It’s simply speculation. It’s, I think, interesting and acceptable to speculate who our sources are. But if we’re talking about the DNC, there’s lots of consultants that have access, lots of programmers. And the DNC has been hacked dozens and dozens of times. Even according to its own reports, it had been hacked extensively over the last few years. And the dates of the emails that we published are significantly after all, or all but one—it’s not clear—of the hacking allegations that the DNC says have occurred.
So Assange is clearly trying to suggest that the source could be someone other than Russian hackers/Guccifer 2.0. Yesterday when I suggested Guccifer was the source of one of the hacked emails on Twitter, Wikileaks immediately jumped on it:
We have not disclosed the source.
— WikiLeaks (@wikileaks) July 24, 2016
The emails are real and will have an impact for that reason, but it’s possible, maybe even likely, that the Russian government is doing its best to monkey with a U.S. presidential election. That’s worrisome even if the person being made a monkey of at the moment is Debbie Wasserman-Schultz.