Area 1, a Silicon Valley security firm, has found evidence of Russians hacking into Burisma, the utility company entangled with Trump’s impeachment.
While it is not yet known what information the hackers have gathered, it is assumed that they are digging for “potentially embarrassing material” that would hurt former VP Joe Biden’s presidential campaign.
According to a new report from the New York Times, the tactics used against Burisma are very similar to those used against Hillary Clinton’s campaign in 2016.
“The Russian tactics are strikingly similar to what American intelligence agencies say was Russia’s hacking of emails from Hillary Clinton’s campaign chairman and the Democratic National Committee during the 2016 presidential campaign.”
How the hackers are getting in
In order to steal the usernames and passwords of Burisma employees, the hackers are using a phishing email scam.
Fake websites are set up that mimic the sign-in pages for subsidiaries of Burisma. Then the company’s employees are sent emails that appear to originate inside the company. Once the employee uses the fake sign-in page, the hackers have everything they need.
“Once again, they are stealing email credentials, in what we can only assume is a repeat of Russian interference in the last election,” explains Oren Falkowitz, a co-founder of Area 1 who previously served at the National Security Agency.
The Russian attack
This attack on Burisma coincides with efforts put forth by Russian spies in Ukraine also looking for dirt on the Bidens. Yet, the tactics being used aren’t new as Falkowitz explains:
“The Burisma hack is a cookie-cutter G.R.U. campaign. Russian hackers, as sophisticated as they are, also tend to be lazy. They use what works. And in this, they were successful.”
A former top FBI official thinks laziness may not be the whole of it. In an interview with MSNBC, Frank Figliuzzi—former Assistant Director for Counterintelligence at the FBI—makes the claim that the Russians are using the same tactics seen in 2016 because they want us to send the message “we’re in charge.”
Figliuzzi calls it “a full-on attack of our 2020 elections,” but doesn’t think it should be surprising. The Russians are capable of making it look like it was Iran or even a “400 lb guy sitting in his bedroom.”
But Russia doesn’t expect any pushback from the current administration.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) has worked so hard to block election security legislation that he literally earned the nickname Moscow Mitch. Plus, Attorney General Barr is busy working to make it more difficult for presidential campaigns to be investigated.
In order for investigators to open up a counterintelligence probe, they will be required to “get approval from both the attorney general and FBI director.”
Russia doesn’t need to hide their attempts at hacking because the Trump administration and Moscow Mitch are practically leaving the door open for them.