At the beginning of last month, and as a consequence of the DNC (Democratic National Party) hacks, news broke about a CIA plan to strike back on the Russians. According to sources of a major news media outlet, US Hackers have already penetrated key networks.
Cybersecurity company SecureWorks (NASDAQ:SCWX) led an investigation that uncovered the virtual identities of the authors behind the DNC hacks. The research shows that a group of hired crackers with Russian origins mounted a spear-phishing scheme, targeting VIPs such as government officials, military personnel, politicians, and journalists, among others.
The group of Russians is known as “Fancy Bear”, although it is believed that they also go by the APT28 or Sofacy moniker. “Fancy Bear” sent more than 9,000 emails to 4,000 people from October 2015 to May 2016.
Spear-Phishing is a technique that lures the target to click on a malicious link or download an infected file. Specifically, John Podesta received a URL shortened with a popular web service named Bitly.
But new information gathered by US news outlet NBC shows that the Americans are prepared to strike back, should the circumstance arise. The outlet reports:
U.S. military hackers have penetrated Russia’s electric grid, telecommunications networks and the Kremlin’s command systems, making them vulnerable to attack by secret American cyber weapons should the U.S. deem it necessary, according to a senior intelligence official and top-secret documents reviewed by NBC News.
Multiple sources, including former and active intelligence officials and military personnel, concur that the US has been probing adversary networks for years. The Internet, however, has become a more hostile place, and wars are fought every day to determine who has more control over it.
The article suggests that the Americans are ready to carry out their own set of attacks in case they detect new faked polling data or an unusual increase of false social media profiles to “propagate misinformation”. A spokesperson for the Clinton campaign stated that Putin was trying to aid Donald Trump via WikiLeaks. The looming threat of hacking events has entered the public spotlight in the past months.
Cyber-threats are part of the reason why e-voting systems haven’t been fully embraced by major countries around the world. Granted, fear of hacking due to insecure protocols or flaws in such systems could prove catastrophic in an event that draws the participation of millions of people.