Would Donald Trump be US President without help from Russian hackers? American politics has been concerned with this question since taking office. An important role in the Russia affair was the takeover of a server from Hillary Clinton's campaign by a notorious Russian hacker group. Now this is back – and again has a Trump rival in its sights.
The hacker group, which is assigned to the Russian secret service GRU, is referred to by experts as Advanced Persistent Threat 28 (APT28 for short). Now she is accused of attacking the Ukrainian natural gas company Burisma. The reports the "New York Times".
Attack in Ukraine
Accordingly, a large-scale phishing attack on Burisma and numerous subsidiaries would bear the signature of the group, also known as Fancy Bear. Putins hackers are said to have attempted to obtain the log-in data of Burisma employees with numerous fake emails until they finally successfully infiltrated the company network. The Area 1 security company that discovered the attack was able to trace attackers' servers back to APT28.
"The timing of the attacks is very similar to that of the 2016 GRU attack on the Democratic Party," explains Area 1 founder Oren Falkowitz. The former NSA agent is certain: "As last time, they stole email access data. Probably to influence the choice again."
In search of the scandal
The choice of Burisma as a goal also fits this. The natural gas giant is at the center of Donald Trump's Ukraine scandal that led to his impeachment process. Trump is convinced that the son of his democratic challenger Joe Biden owed his job to the company's board of directors only to his father's relationships. In order to find evidence of this, he probably even put pressure on the Ukrainian president – and will therefore soon have to face an official impeachment procedure.
After Area 1, the Russian hackers are now supposed to provide evidence for Trump's thesis. In addition to APT28, Russian spies were also trying to get the relevant documents on site, a US security officer told NYT. They are therefore trying to put pressure on the Ukrainian government and Burisma employees to get documents and files.
Waiting for the right moment
So far, no documents from the hack have been published. If the hackers really want to support Trump, they should at least wait until Joe Biden is chosen as the Democratic official presidential candidate. Should the documents appear too early, this would only help other democratic candidates and not the president. Although Biden has long been a favorite, his nomination for other strong candidates is far from certain.
The attack on Biden is much easier for the hackers this time than it was for Clinton, foreign policy expert Clint Watts argues to "Wired". "Last time they hacked all sorts of things in the hope of finding a stressful story. This time the president is already telling a specific story. Instead of finding dirt himself, you can now follow a story that is already going around – and just have to confirm it . "
Swell: New York Times, Wired, CNN, Fast Company