Fighting back against Putin’s hackers

Christopher Dickey writes: Looking back on the presidential campaign of Hillary Clinton last year, one sees an appalling passivity and helplessness as online attackers stole her campaign secrets and now-President Donald Trump exploited that information without shame or discretion.

But, having learned many lessons from the Clinton debacle, the digital team working for French presidential candidate Emmanuel Macron not only took precautions, it decided to fight back.

Next to the U.S. presidential elections, none in the world have had such high stakes riding on them: the future of the European Union, NATO, global commerce—the list is long. And Macron’s team realized early on, as they watched the Democratic Party’s implosion in America, that they too might be the targets of a group of hackers known by many sobriquets, including Pawn Storm, Apt28, STRONTIUM, and rather more colorfully, Fancy Bear.

The group’s hacking operation is most clearly identifiable by its techniques and targets. It’s made up of cyber-criminals with political agendas that fit so closely the priorities of Russian President Vladimir Putin that they are widely believed to be working on his behalf or under his direct orders. (Indeed, the American intelligence community appears to have little doubt on that score anymore.)

And, sure enough, when Macron’s upstart centrist political movement began to gain real momentum toward the end of last year, the “spear phishing” attacks against it started. [Continue reading…]

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