US says it's identified six Russian officials as DNC hack suspects

Prosecutors 'could bring a case next year'

The US government has identified "more than six members of the Russian government" involved in hacking the Democratic National Committee's computers and leaking information during last year's presidential election.

The Wall Street Journal reports that Justice Department officials are in the early stages of deciding whether to bring charges in the high-profile case. "Prosecutors and agents have assembled evidence to charge the Russian officials and could bring a case next year," unnamed sources told the paper.

Publicly released forensics work by incident response firm Mandiant has identified tools and techniques used in the hack associated with the APT28/Fancy Bear group, otherwise identified as a unit of Russian Military Intelligence (the GRU).

The allegation, strongly denied by the Kremlin, is that Russian snoops ran a campaign aimed at influencing the presidential election. US intelligence agencies are virtually unanimous on that point but not so clear cut as to whether the campaign was aimed at getting Donald Trump elected or just weakening the authority of runaway favourite Hillary Clinton.

Emails and other data harvested from the Democrat campaign, as well as the emails of Clinton campaign chairman John Podesta, were released through Wikileaks and other outlets.

The WSJ adds that the case might be compared to the decision back in March to charge two Russian operatives and two other suspects with the Yahoo! hack.

Compiling a dossier on DNC hack suspects is running separately from special counsel Robert Mueller's investigation into alleged Russian interference in the 2016 election. The latter probe is actively examining allegations of possible collusion between Trump campaign officials and Moscow. President Trump has repeatedly denied any impropriety in his campaign, accusations he has angrily and repeatedly dismissed as fake news and an attempt by the Democrats to avoid accepting responsibility for a losing campaign.

Earlier this week money-laundering and tax-avoidance charges were unsealed against former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort and his associate Richard Gates. Both deny any wrongdoing.

George Papadopoulos, a former foreign policy advisor to the Trump campaign, pleaded guilty to deceiving FBI agents about meeting with Russian lawyers and other alleged Kremlin intermediaries during last year's fractious campaign.

Charges against Russian officials in the more technically slanted FBI investigation, which began before the Mueller probe, are unlikely to lead to arrests. The US strategy of naming suspects in high-profile hacking cases is more an act of diplomatic pressure.

Five Chinese military officers were publicly named back in 2014 over allegations that they systematically hacked the computers of US tech firms and others in order to steal intellectual property and trade secrets. The Chinese government denies the allegation and none of the five have actually been arrested. ®

Similar topics

Broader topics

Other stories you might like

  • Israeli air raid sirens triggered in possible cyberattack
    Source remains unclear, plenty suspect Iran

    Air raid sirens sounded for over an hour in parts of Jerusalem and southern Israel on Sunday evening – but bombs never fell, leading some to blame Iran for compromising the alarms. 

    While the perpetrator remains unclear, Israel's National Cyber Directorate did say in a tweet that it suspected a cyberattack because the air raid sirens activated were municipality-owned public address systems, not Israel Defense Force alarms as originally believed. Sirens also sounded in the Red Sea port town of Eilat. 

    Netizens on social media and Israeli news sites pointed the finger at Iran, though a diplomatic source interviewed by the Jerusalem Post said there was no certainty Tehran was behind the attack. The source also said Israel faces cyberattacks regularly, and downplayed the significance of the incident. 

    Continue reading
  • Hackers weigh in on programming languages of choice
    Small, self-described sample, sure. But results show shifts over time

    Never mind what enterprise programmers are trained to do, a self-defined set of hackers has its own programming language zeitgeist, one that apparently changes with the wind, at least according to the relatively small set surveyed.

    Members of Europe's Chaos Computer Club, which calls itself "Europe's largest association of hackers" were part of a pool for German researchers to poll. The goal of the study was to discover what tools and languages hackers prefer, a mission that sparked some unexpected results.

    The researchers were interested in understanding what languages self-described hackers use, and also asked about OS and IDE choice, whether or not an individual considered their choice important for hacking and how much experience they had as a programmer and hacker.

    Continue reading
  • Stolen-data market RaidForums taken down in domain seizure
    Suspected admin who went by 'Omnipotent' awaits UK decision on extradition to US

    After at least six years of peddling pilfered personal information, the infamous stolen-data market RaidForums has been shut down following the arrest of suspected founder and admin Diogo Santos Coelho in the UK earlier this year.

    Coelho, 21, who allegedly used the mistaken moniker "Omnipotent" among others, according to the US indictment unsealed on Monday in the Eastern District of Virginia, is currently awaiting the outcome of UK legal proceedings to extradite him to the United States.

    The six-count US indictment [PDF] charges Coelho with conspiracy, access device fraud, and aggravated identity theft following from his alleged activities as the chief administrator of RaidForums, an online market for compromised or stolen databases containing personal and financial information.

    Continue reading

Biting the hand that feeds IT © 1998–2022