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Russian Hackers Stole Donald Trump Research from DNC Databases

Russian Hackers Stole Donald Trump Research from DNC Databases

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By Glynn Cosker
Managing Editor, In Homeland Security

In a major cybersecurity breach, Russian hackers broke into the networks of the Democratic National Committee (DNC) and accessed a database containing research conducted on GOP presidential front runner Donald Trump.

The Washington Post first broke the news Tuesday. The Post also reported that the hackers compromised all email and even chat traffic within the DNC’s secured system.

The allegations of Russian hacking into U.S. political systems is not new; Russian cyber-criminals have gone after key government mainstays all the way up to the White House. This time around, two separate hacker groups gained access and monitored all DNC communication and internal memos since last summer.

Cyber firm CrowdStrike was called in to handle the breach and they’ve dubbed the two Russian outfits as “Cozy Bear” and “Fancy Bear.”  According to CrowdStrike’s co-founder Dmitri Alperovitch, Cozy Bear and Fancy Bear have hacked into government agencies and defense contractors around the world.

The two groups of Russian hackers do not work in tandem, according to Alperovitch. He told the Post that he believes that Fancy Bear is affiliated with Russia’s military intelligence service, while Cozy Bear is likely linked to the Federal Security Service or FSB – once headed by Russian President Vladimir Putin.

“There’s an amazing adversarial relationship among the Russian intelligence agencies,” said Alperovitch. “We have seen them steal assets from one another, refuse to collaborate. They’re all vying for power, to sell Putin on how good they are.”

DNC Reacts to Russian Hackers

Not surprisingly, the DNC immediately fell into damage-control mode.

“When we discovered the intrusion, we treated this like the serious incident it is and reached out to CrowdStrike immediately,” stated DNC Chairwoman Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-Fla.). “Our team moved as quickly as possible to kick out the intruders and secure our network.”

According to the Post, DNC leaders first learned of the hack in late April when CEO Amy Dacey received notice that her IT security department was monitoring some unusual and troubling network activity.

“It’s never a call any executive wants to get, but the IT team knew something was awry,” Dacey said. And they knew it was serious enough that they wanted experts to investigate.”

CrowdStrike was uncertain as to how the hackers infiltrated the DNC’s systems but cited spearphishing emails as a possibility.

There was no immediate comment from either Hillary Clinton or Trump, and – according to CrowdStrike – no personal information was compromised.

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