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The Perfect Weapon: How Russian Cyberpower Invaded the U.S.

December 15, 2016

: nytimes – excerpt

WASHINGTON — When Special Agent Adrian Hawkins of the Federal Bureau of Investigation called the Democratic National Committee in September 2015 to pass along some troubling news about its computer network, he was transferred, naturally, to the help desk.

His message was brief, if alarming. At least one computer system belonging to the D.N.C. had been compromised by hackers federal investigators had named “the Dukes,” a cyberespionage team linked to the Russian government.

The F.B.I. knew it well: The bureau had spent the last few years trying to kick the Dukes out of the unclassified email systems of the White House, the State Department and even the Joint Chiefs of Staff, one of the government’s best-protected networks.

Yared Tamene, the tech-support contractor at the D.N.C. who fielded the call, was no expert in cyberattacks. His first moves were to check Google for “the Dukes” and conduct a cursory search of the D.N.C. computer system logs to look for hints of such a cyberintrusion. By his own account, he did not look too hard even after Special Agent Hawkins called back repeatedly over the next several weeks — in part because he wasn’t certain the caller was a real F.B.I. agent and not an impostor…

Charles Delavan, a Clinton campaign aide, incorrectly legitimized a phishing email sent to the personal account of John D. Podesta, the campaign chairman… (more)

Following the Links From Russian Hackers to the U.S. Election

The Central Intelligence Agency concluded that the
Russian government deployed computer hackers to help
elect Donald J. Trump.

Russian government

American intelligence officials said they believed that the hackers were associated with two Russian intelligence agencies.


July 2015

Federal Security Service

A hacking group possibly linked to the agency, the main successor to the K.G.B., entered Democratic National Committee servers undetected for nearly a year, security researchers said. The group was nicknamed Cozy Bear, the Dukes or A.P.T. 29 for “advanced persistent threat.”

March 2016

G.R.U.: Military Intelligence

Investigators believe that the G.R.U., or a hacking group known as Fancy Bear or A.P.T. 28, was the second group to break into the D.N.C., but it has played a bigger role in releasing the committee’s emails.


Guccifer 2.0

A self-proclaimed hacker that investigators believe was a group acting as an agent of the G.R.U. It published documents itself and leaked a series of D.N.C. documents.


Investigators say it is a front for the Russian hackers who have tried to disrupt the election this year. It appeared in June as the release of the stolen Democratic Party documents began.



The website released about 50,000 emails from the Democratic National Committee’s computer servers. It is unclear how WikiLeaks obtained the emails. But Russian intelligence agencies are prime suspects, researchers said.


Dozens of newspapers, television stations, bloggers and radio stations around the United States — including The New York Times, The Washington Post and The Wall Street Journal — pursued reporting based on the hacked material, significantly increasing the effects of the cyberattack. In some cases, Guccifer 2.0 and DC Leaks took requests from reporters, releasing documents to them directly.


Obama ordered a report about Russian influence

President Obama warned President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia in early September to stay away from the American election. And in December, he ordered intelligence agencies to assemble a “lessons learned” report before he leaves office on Jan. 20. The goal of the report, in part, is to create a comprehensive history of the Russian effort to influence the election.

The leaks cast doubt on the electoral process

According to intelligence officials, the Russians were as surprised as everyone else by Mr. Trump’s victory. But the leaks disrupted the campaign and undercut confidence in the integrity of the vote.

House races in a dozen states were affected

Tens of thousands of pages of hacked D.N.C. documents were selectively released by Guccifer 2.0 to political bloggers and newspaper reporters, causing a backlash against Democrats, like Annette Taddeo, pictured left, running for the House in highly competitive contests.

The hacked Podesta emails dominated news

Weeks before the election, about 60,000 hacked emails from the account of John D. Podesta, Hillary Clinton’s campaign manager, were released, in small amounts, spread over many days. They sparked extensive news coverage about the campaign’s internal dynamics (as well as fake news stories).

The leaks fueled a rift in the Democratic Party

The emails forced the resignation of Debbie Wasserman Schultz as chairwoman of the D.N.C. and added to the divide between supporters of Senator Bernie Sanders and Mrs. Clinton’s campaign.

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