Mark Collins – US Election Cyber Security Mess: Democrats, the Bear, the Donald, Whatever

Further to this May post,

“US intelligence: Foreign hackers spying on campaigns”

the bits are really hitting the fan–at Foreign Policy’s “Situation Report”:

Is Moscow Trying to Influence U.S. Election?

Moscow calling. Did Russian hackers, supported by the Kremlin, just force the resignation of a major American political figure? That’s what some analysts have come to believe in the wake of the leak of a huge trove of emails from the Democratic National Committee’s servers.

On Friday [July 22], the emails and internal documents spilled onto the internet courtesy of WikiLeaks, quickly claiming the scalp of DNC boss Debbie Wasserman Schultz and kicking off a scandal over how the party had worked with the campaign of Hillary Clinton to undermine the candidacy of Sen. Bernie Sanders.

Larger implications. Last month, the DNC and security firm CrowdStrike  reported that hackers likely working on behalf of two Russian intelligence agencies had broken into DNC servers and made off with opposition research and email messages. After that report, a hacker calling himself Guccifer 2.0 stepped forward and took responsibility for the hack, saying he had nothing to do with Moscow’s intelligence services. But Guccifer is most likely a fiction created by the GRU, Russian military intelligence, and the FSB, the successor group to the KGB, to mask their role in the hack — and the subsequent attempt to influence the U.S. election.

The hackers. One group, FANCY BEAR or APT 28, obtained access in April [see 2) and 3) here: “Dragon and Bear Hack Attacks, Including White House“], while the other, COZY BEAR, or APT 29, first entered the network in the summer of 2015. A good place to start to get a handle on all this is the New York Times’ Adrian Chen’s June 2015 in-depth look at Russian troll and hacker factories.

Politics. The Clinton campaign has taken the opportunity to tie the Trump campaign as closely as possible to the Kremlin, with Clinton’s campaign chief, Robby Mook, telling ABC News Sunday that “it’s troubling that some experts are now telling us that this was done by the Russians for the purpose of helping Donald Trump.” The Trump campaign rejected such accusations.

Russian connections. Last week, FP’s Dan De Luce and Paul McLeary wrote that Trump has surrounded himself with advisors who have had direct business ties to Moscow, including campaign manager, Paul Manafort, a onetime consultant to the pro-Moscow former president of Ukraine, Viktor Yanukovych. One of his military advisors, retired Lt. Gen. Mike Flynn, was invited to sit at Putin’s table at a December dinner in Moscow sponsored by RT, the government-funded news network, and Carter Page, a former consultant to Russia’s state-owned gas giant, Gazprom, has suggested Washington is to blame for raising tensions with Moscow over Ukraine. Trump’s surrogates also successfully watered down language in the GOP platform to remove calls for arming Ukraine’s forces against pro-Russian separatists…

The  tradecraft:

How Putin Weaponized Wikileaks to Influence the Election of an American President

And what about Ms Clinton’s private e-mail server (August 2015)?

China’s Vast Cyber-Reach in the US: Hillary Clinton? Or,

Where it will all end knows only the American voter. Reassuring?

Mark Collins, a prolific Ottawa blogger, is a Fellow at the Canadian Global Affairs Institute; he tweets @Mark3Ds

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