Tuesday, July 26, 2016


Submitted by: Conservative 2 Conservative

FBI investigates hacking of Democratic Party organization

 25 Jul 2016 
The Federal Bureau of Investigation is investigating the nature and scope of a cyber intrusion at the Democratic National Committee, the agency said on Monday, amid concerns hackers working for Russia are attempting to use the breach to influence the U.S. presidential election.

Separately, the U.S. House of Representatives intelligence committee has been briefed on the hack and would seek information on any potential connection to Russia or another state, said Representative Adam Schiff, the senior Democrat on the panel.
Clinton campaign manager Robby Mook told CNN on Sunday that the emails were released by suspected Russian hackers in order to sow discord at the convention and help Republican nominee Donald Trump, her rival in the Nov. 8 presidential election. 
The Trump campaign dismissed the allegation as absurd.
DNC Email Hacks: GRU, Russian Military Intelligence - The DENISE SIMON EXPERIENCE Blog

founders code.com 
In part from Motherboard: In the wee hours of June 14, the Washington Postrevealed that “Russian government hackers” had penetrated the computer network of the Democratic National Committee. Foreign spies, the Post claimed, had gained access to the DNC’s entire database of opposition research on the presumptive Republican nominee, Donald Trump, just weeks before the Republican Convention. Hillary Clinton said the attack was “troubling.”
It began ominously. Nearly two months earlier, in April, the Democrats had noticed that something was wrong in their networks. Then, in early May, the DNC called in CrowdStrike, a security firm that specializes in countering advanced network threats. After deploying their tools on the DNC’s machines, and after about two hours of work, CrowdStrike found“two sophisticated adversaries” on the Committee’s network. The two groups were well-known in the security industry as “APT 28” and “APT 29.” APT stands for Advanced Persistent Threat—usually jargon for spies.
CrowdStrike linked both groups to “the Russian government’s powerful and highly capable intelligence services.” APT 29, suspected to be the FSB, had been on the DNC’s network since at least summer 2015. APT 28, identified as Russia’s military intelligence agency GRU, had breached the Democrats only in April 2016, and probably tipped off the investigation. CrowdStrike found no evidence of collaboration between the two intelligence agencies inside the DNC’s networks, “or even an awareness of one by the other,” the firm wrote.
This was big. Democratic political operatives suspected that not one but two teams of Putin’s spies were trying to help Trump and harm Clinton. The Trump campaign, after all, was gettingfriendly with Russia. The Democrats decided to go public.

Digitally exfiltrating and then publishing possibly manipulated documents disguised as freewheeling hacktivism is crossing a big red line and setting a dangerous precedent

The DNC knew that this wild claim would have to be backed up by solid evidence. A Post story wouldn’t provide enough detail, so CrowdStrike had prepared a technical report to go online later that morning. The security firm carefully outlined some of the allegedly “superb” tradecraft of both intrusions: the Russian software implants were stealthy, they could sense locally-installed virus scanners and other defenses, the tools were customizable through encrypted configuration files, they were persistent, and the intruders used an elaborate command-and-control infrastructure. So the security firm claimed to have outed two intelligence operations.
Then, the next day, the story exploded.
On June 15 a WordPress blog popped up out of nowhere. And, soon, a Twitter account, @GUCCIFER_2. The first post and tweet were clumsily titled: “DNC’s servers hacked by a lone hacker.” The message: that it was not hacked by Russian intelligence. The mysterious online persona claimed to have given “thousands of files and mails” to Wikileaks, while mocking the firm investigating the case: “I guess CrowdStrike customers should think twice about company’s competence,” the post said, adding “Fuck CrowdStrike!!!!!!!!!”
Along with the abuse, the Guccifer 2.0 account started publishing stolen DNC documents on the WordPress blog, on file sharing sites, and by giving“a few docs from many thousands” to at least two US publications, The Smoking Gun and Gawker. Mainstream media outlets quickly picked up the story and covered the Clinton campaign’s opposition research on Trump in hundreds of news items that revealed pre-rehearsed arguments against the presumptive Republican nominee: that “Trump has no core”; that he is a “bad businessman;” and that he should be branded “misogynist in chief.” Donor lists were leaked along with personal contact details and juicy dollar amounts.
The Guccifer 2.0 account also claimed that it had given an unknown number of documents containing “election programs, strategies, plans against Reps, financial reports, etc” to Wikileaks. Two days later, Wikileaks published a massive 88 gigabyte encrypted file as “insurance.” This file, which Julian Assange could unlock by simply tweeting a key, is widely suspected to contain the DNC cache. On 13 July, almost a month after the hack became public, the intruders leaked selected files exclusively to The Hill, a Washington outlet for Congressional and political news, and then made the original files available later.
Nine days later, on July 22, just after Trump was officially nominated and before the Democratic National Convention got under way, Wikileaks published more than 19,000 DNC emails with more than 8,000 attachments—“i sent them emails, i posted some files in my blog,” Guccifer confirmed by DM, when asked if he shared all files with Julian Assange. Two days later, on July 24, Debbie Wasserman Schultz, chair of Democratic National Committee, announced her resignation—the extraordinary hack and leak had helped force out the head of one of America’s political parties and threatened to disrupt Hillary Clinton’s nominating convention.
This tactic and its remarkable success is a game-changer: exfiltrating documents from political organisations is a legitimate form of intelligence work. The US and European countries do it as well. But digitally exfiltrating and thenpublishing possibly manipulated documents disguised as freewheeling hacktivism is crossing a big red line and setting a dangerous precedent: an authoritarian country directly yet covertly trying to sabotage an American election.
So how good is the evidence? And what does all this mean?
The forensic evidence linking the DNC breach to known Russian operations is very strong. On June 20, two competing cybersecurity companies, Mandiant (part of FireEye) and Fidelis, confirmed CrowdStrike’s initial findings that Russian intelligence indeed hacked Clinton’s campaign. The forensic evidence that links network breaches to known groups is solid: used and reused tools, methods, infrastructure, even unique encryption keys. For example: in late March the attackers registered a domain with a typo—misdepatrment[.]com—to look suspiciously like the company hired by the DNC to manage its network, MIS Department. They then linked this deceptive domain to a long-known APT 28 so-called X-Tunnel command-and-control IP address, 45.32.129[.]185.
One of the strongest pieces of evidence linking GRU to the DNC hack is the equivalent of identical fingerprints found in two burglarized buildings: a reused command-and-control address—176.31.112[.]10—that was hard coded in a piece of malware found both in the German parliament as well as on the DNC’s servers. Russian military intelligence was identified by the German domestic security agency BfV as the actor responsible for the Bundestag breach. The infrastructure behind the fake MIS Department domain was also linked to the Berlin intrusion through at least one other element, a shared SSL certificate.
The evidence linking the Guccifer 2.0 account to the same Russian operators is not as solid, yet a deception operation—a GRU false flag, in technical jargon—is still highly likely. Intelligence operatives and cybersecurity professionals long knew that such false flags were becoming more common. One noteworthy example was the sabotage of France’s TV5 Monde station on 9/10 April 2015, initially claimed by the mysterious “CyberCaliphate,” a group allegedly linked to ISIS. Then, in June, the French authorities suspected the same infamous APT 28 group behind the TV5 Monde breach, in preparation since January of that year. But the DNC deception is the most detailed and most significant case study so far. The technical details are as remarkable as its strategic context.
The metadata in the leaked documents are perhaps most revealing: one dumped document was modified using Russian language settings, by a user named“Феликс Эдмундович,” a code name referring to the founder of the Soviet Secret Police, the Cheka, memorialised in a 15-ton iron statue in front of the old KGB headquarters during Soviet times. The original intruders made other errors: one leaked document included hyperlink error messages in Cyrillic, the result of editing the file on a computer with Russian language settings. After this mistake became public, the intruders removed the Cyrillic information from the metadata in the next dump and carefully used made-up user names from different world regions, thereby confirming they had made a mistake in the first round.  More comprehensive details here from Motherboard.

Laura  J Alcorn
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