From Moscow: Russian Hacker Claims FSB Ordered Him to Hack DNC Servers Ahead of the US Election

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Dec 11, 2017
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Just when you think the drama is over… The 2016 US Presidential election saw most of its campaign time spent on Russia and immigrants. As the social networking sites turned into dreary hate platforms, there were also the explosive leaks that were the result of the summer 2016 hack of the Democratic National Committee. Since the hack (and even before that), the intelligence and cybersecurity community continued to warn against Russia trying to interfere with the election process. While so far everything has come from the US government itself, the country’s intelligence agencies and the infosec community, it is probably the first time that a Russian hacker has admitted to have taken part in the DNC hack.

Earlier today, a Russian newspaper made the explosive revelation that a hacker had confessed in a Moscow courtroom that the DNC hack was ordered by the Russia intelligence agency, the FSB. Hackers had stolen thousands of private emails from the DNC servers that were later dumped by WikiLeaks before the election. As Fortune notes, the stolen material was released five months after the original hack, “only hours after Billy Bush’s infamous Access Hollywood tape, in which Trump bragged of using his TV fame to make sexual advances on women” sparking speculations about Trump-Russia collusion.

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As a result of these leaks, the FBI – then led by James Comey who was later fired by the new US president – had started an investigation, which many believe, affected the candidacy of the democratic nominee, Hillary Clinton.

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Konstantin Kozlovsky was arrested by the Russian authorities for alleged bank heists. Kozlovsky has reportedly testified that he has been reporting directly to Dmitry Dokuchayev (a major-general in the FSB) since 2008. He also claimed that Dokuchayev had instructed him to attack the DNC’s servers for the purpose of manipulating the electoral process in the United States. We had previously reported that Dokuchayev (Dokuchaev) was himself arrested on charges of treason and was accused by the agency of passing information to the CIA. Dokuchayev was also then charged in the US for hacking into the Yahoo servers. [Since the election, this group appears to be in trouble on both sides of the Bering Strait]

Russian website The Bell has cited Kozlovsky’s Facebook page that had shared the testimony  (in Russian), and an audio recording of the hearing posted on Soundcloud.

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Kozlovsky said that he “performed various tasks under the supervision of FSB officers, in particular,” hacking “of the National Committee of the Democratic Party of the USA and electronic correspondence of Hillary Clinton, and also” hacking “very serious military enterprises of the United States and other organizations.” (translated)

The site added that the authenticity of the documents was confirmed by two people – “a source close to the defense side of Kozlovsky, who was present at the meeting, and another friend of the hacker”. Apparently, the Russian government contractor had first announced his work for the FSB in a letter in November, 2016.

While the US agencies and the security community have long believed that the hacks and fake news campaigns on the social networking sites were run by the FSB, this is the first time that a Russian hacker has claimed responsibility and blamed it on the Russian agency. It is also yet another case that reveals a massive shake up of the FSB and its contractors, as the agency continues to remove everyone believed to have been associated with the hacks of the US government departments or private companies. 

– Earlier: FBI Reportedly Finds a DNC Hack “Witness” in Ukraine, Russia’s Testing Ground

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