Bloomberg reports: “There’s no need to distract the public’s attention from the essence of the problem by raising some minor issues connected with the search for who did it,” Putin said of the DNC breach. “But I want to tell you again, I don’t know anything about it, and on a state level Russia has never done this.”
The Federal Bureau of Investigation has high confidence that the government in Moscow was behind the theft at the DNC and other Democratic Party organizations seeking to propel Clinton to victory over Republican Donald Trump in November, a person familiar with the findings has said. Trump has praised Putin as a great leader and the billionaire’s former campaign chairman spent years working for the Kremlin ally who was ousted from Ukraine’s presidency in 2014.
In a two-hour conversation near Russia’s eastern fringe, Putin touched on subjects ranging from the war in Syria to oil prices and trade with China. It came just two days before Putin, Barack Obama and other world leaders gather at a Group of 20 meeting in Hangzhou.
An internal DNC probe by CrowdStrike Inc., a cybersecurity company, traced the DNC break-in to two groups it says are linked to Russian intelligence services. One, Cozy Bear, it says is affiliated with the Federal Security Service, the main successor to the KGB, while the other, Fancy Bear, it says is tied to the Main Intelligence Directorate, a branch of the Defense Ministry.
James Lewis, a cybersecurity expert at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington, said Russia’s “track record” of state hacking goes back at least a decade, so Putin’s denials aren’t credible.
“Nice try, but no goal,” Lewis said.
The digital net cast by the hackers has widened almost weekly — security experts say it now includes congressional staffers, NATO generals, Washington think tanks and the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee — adding another unpredictable element to a highly unusual election. The subsequent leaks have included the mobile number of House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, who said she was barraged with “obscene” calls within hours.
Putin also took a dig at the U.S. campaign and what he saw as an obvious party bias in favor of Clinton, saying he “couldn’t imagine” that the information leaked from the DNC would be newsworthy for “American society — specifically that the campaign headquarters worked in the interest of one of the candidates, in this case Mrs. Clinton, rather than equally for all of the Democratic party candidates. ”
Alexander Gostev, the chief expert at Kaspersky Lab, a Moscow-based software security firm, said of all the Russian-speaking hacking groups targeting governments, Fancy Bear “is the most notable.”
Malware linked to Fancy Bear was widely detected in Ukrainian government computers during the elections that were held after the country’s Kremlin-backed leader, Viktor Yanukovych, was deposed, Gostev said, adding that “six or seven” groups may be tied to the Russian government.
At the same time, Russia has come under attack by viruses linked to U.S. and U.K. intelligence services, Gostev said, adding that hacking efforts from China against Russian defense and nuclear agencies have intensified in the past year. [Continue reading…]