Hackers affiliated with the Russian Government have had access to the Democratic National Committee’s files regarding their oppositional research on Donald Trump for the last year.
CrowdStrike, the security firm called in by Democrats to deal with the breach, found that two separate hacking groups—codenamed COZY BEAR and FANCY BEAR—broke into the databases independent of one another and did not work in collaboration.
COZY BEAR has a long history of infiltrating government databases, having been responsible for breaching the White House, State Department, and Joint Chiefs of Staff in addition to targeted organizations around the world. They first breached the DNC’s database in the summer of 2015.
RuFANCY BEAR is a similar hacking group with affiliations to GRU, Russia’s premier military intelligence service, and have struck targets in the United States, Western Europe, Brazil, Canada, China, Georgia, Iran, Japan, Malaysia and South Korea. They accessed the DNC database in April, according to CrowdStrike.
“That’s the way the world works. They spy on us and we spy on them. The fact that they are trying to get into DNC files makes sense,” said Max Abrahms, expert on international terrorism at Northeastern University.
“Donald Trump is an issue of national security,” he said.
Dmitri Alperovitch, the founder of CrowdStrike wrote in a blog post that the security firm “observed the two Russian espionage groups compromise the same systems and engage separately in the theft of identical credentials.”
“While you would virtually never see Western intelligence agencies going after the same target without de-confliction for fear of compromising each other’s operations, in Russia this is not an uncommon scenario,” continued Alperovitch who linked to an article “Putin’s Hydra: Inside Russia’s Intelligence Services.”
Hacking is not uncommon during a presidential campaign. In 2012, Mitt Romney’s email was hacked, and it was later revealed that his computer was under “continual assault” by Chinese hackers, according to an excerpt of the book “Double Down: Game Change 2012,” by Mark Halperin and John Heilemann.
Last month, Director of National Intelligence James Clapper said, “We’ve already had some indications of [political hacking]. And a combination of [the Department of Homeland Security] and FBI are doing what they can to educate both campaigns against a potential cyberthreat.”
DNC Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz gave a statement to the Washington Post saying: “The security of our system is critical to our operation and to the confidence of the campaigns and state parties we work with. When we discovered the intrusion, we treated this like the serious incident it is and reached out to CrowdStrike immediately. Our team moved as quickly as possible to kick out the intruders and secure our network.”