3 FBI Probes in Russian Election Hacking

Director James Comey confirmed that the FBI is investigating ties between President Donald Trump's campaign and Russia during the 2016 U.S. election. This is big news. Although the three primary intelligence agencies (CIA, NSA and FBI) have all confirmed that Russia tampered in the election, what stands now is the question whether or not Trump's team colluded with the Kremlin or was simple the unwitting beneficiary of the foreign power's hacking offensive.

Below, we will discuss the latest news on the alleged Trump-Russia connection, what that means for cybersecurity wonks and if there is anything you can do to protect your business from similarly attacks.

If you are targeted by state-sponsored hackers, remember that CyberPolicy's cyber coverage insurance can defend your organization against the financial damages.

From Russia with Conspiracy

In mid-February, Reuters reported that the FBI is pursuing three separate probes to investigate Russia's election meddling. The FBI's Pittsburgh office is apparently leading the pack, but there is \"not enough clear evidence yet for an indictment.\"

Or as Representative Adam Schiff put it during the opening statement for the House intelligence committee, "Is it possible that all of these events and reports are completely unrelated, and nothing more than an entirely unhappy coincidence? Yes, it is possible. But it is also possible, maybe more than possible, that they are not coincidental, not disconnected and not unrelated."

While there have been numerous members of Team Trump who have met with, and later denied before confirming and downplaying their meetings, with Russian officials, we will focus our efforts on the evidence relating specifically to the hack and investigation:

  • According to the controversial Steele dossier released by a former British intelligence officer, Russia would publish documents damaging to Hillary Clinton through an outlet that gave them plausible deniability, in exchange for policies from the Trump camp deemphasizing Russia's invasion of Ukraine and criticizing NATO countries. The GOP platform is changed just prior to the convention to match these demands at the insistence of the Trump campaign.
  • Roger Stone, a longtime Trump advisor, boasts that he communicated with Julian Assange of WikiLeaks and hacker Guccifer 2.0, a suspected front for Russian intelligence. Stone predicts an "October surprise" for the Clinton campaign and release of John Podesta's emails.
  • Podesta was hacked by a spearphishing campaign and his emails were leaked to WikiLeaks in an effort to harm Clinton's candidacy. Guccifer 2.0 claims responsibility for the leak and Stone authors a Breitbart piece denying Guccifer's links to Russian intelligence.
  • Numerous Russian \"fingerprints\" were found on the election hacking code including a software beacon to send information back to Russia, automated Russian timestamps on data transfers, automated transfers that took breaks on Russian holidays, the software was coded using a Cyrillic keyboard and IP addresses matched known Russian-sponsored cyberattackers (ATP28 and ATP29).
  • Trump praises Russia on national television, asks them to release more emails on his opponent.
  • After the election, the U.S. intercepts communication between senior Russian officials celebrating Trump's win and congratulating each other on the outcome.

These are just a few pieces of evidence in a developing investigation and we are likely to see more news in the coming months. Of course, government-backed hackers aren't only attacking political parties, many are businesses as well. Yahoo and Google, for example, have reported cyberattacks on their users. China has also engaged in hacking U.S. businesses.

Thankfully, much of this information was released to the public which aids cybersecurity experts and private businesses to sure up their own defenses. Still, it is best to remain cautious. Remember to avoid suspicious emails, links and downloads; update your passwords on a regular basis; and alert your IT team if you believe your systems have been compromised.

Will your organization be next? Stop cybercriminals from derailing your business with cyber coverage insurance from CyberPolicy today!

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