Mounting evidence in the recent Democratic Party hacks, and the security breach to the Clinton administration is pointing to a Russian backed cyber army, according to a former Defense Department official and other security professionals.
“This clearly has all indications of a larger strategic intelligence gathering operation,” former IT specialist at the Defense Intelligence Agency, Bob Gourley said.
CEO of the next-gen. tech. group Strategic Cyber Ventures, Tom Kellerman, also thinks the attacks are linked, soley based on circumstantial evidence like the timeline of events.
“It’s not suprising to me,” Kellerman said. He argued that last summer 2,600 of Washington’s most highly influential people were targeted by cyberattacks from Russia in “Operation Pawn Storm.”
The data collected from the recent attacks shows that the Democratic National Committee was targeted first. The hackers bounced to other computer networks after staff members of the DCC Committee opened phishing emails that stole their user IDs, passwords and other information.
Currently under investigation by the FBI, the DNC hacks were made public in July. Earlier this month the DCC Committee announced that it was not clear whether that work as expanded with the apparent targeting of the Clinton Foundation.
Gourley, who is now a partner at the strategic consulting and engineering firm Cognitio, told Fox News about a new way of hacking called malvertising. This takes advantage of how the internet is now designed to deliver targeted ads to visitors.
“People are deceived into clicking a link. After that foothold is established, the malicious code, the real hackers get to work and grow out from there,” Gourley explained.
The Russian Government denies direct involvement in the hacks, but Russian intelligence is suspected of using cyber gangs on a regular basis to create a sort of plausible deniability.
“Within the former Soviet bloc, Russian-speaking hackers pay homage as cyber-militia members to the regime in Russia. They act as proxies. When called upon to leverage their sophisticated tool sets and attack against victims in the U.S.,” Kellerman stated.
He went on further to warn about the NSA posting for auction some of its powerful spying tools, considered electronic lock picks with code names like buzzdirection and epicbanana.
“The distribution of that cyber arsenal to the wild allows for literally a cyber forest fire to occur against US corporations and government agencies,” Kellerman continued.
The codes were created by a group of elite NSA hackers and are believed to be stolen in 2013. The same time former contractor Edward Snowden was copying the multitudes of surveillance documents.
Snowden is still in Russia, and experts are not ruling out a DNC connection.
“The only links are circumstantial. It’s a very interesting timing that would occur right now after someone sat on that code for over three years,” Gourley commented.
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