By: +David Herron; Date: November 8, 2017
The hack of the Democratic National Committee's email service proved crucial to the leaks that brought down the Clinton Campaign in 2016. It's well known that the DNC's IT department ignored warnings from the NSA and FBI for several months. They then turned to a private company, CrowdStrike, because they couldn't trust the FBI to treat them fairly -- given what was going on concerning the FBI investigation into Hillary Clinton's email policies as Secretary of State. CrowdStrike had in its staff a highly experience cyber-security sleuth who had dealt with this sort of attack previously.
The hack is tied to Russians because of the sort of malware that was infiltrated into the server systems. The fingerprints on that malware are associated with a group named APT 29, which is believed to be associated with Russian Intelligence agencies.
With the malware in place, APT 29 installed configurations into the email servers so that every email sent through the DNC's email system was also forwarded to another email address somewhere else. In other words, some other entity had received a years worth of DNC's internal communications.
Back in June 2016, CrowdStrike published information about the attack on their blog. They identified two sources of attack on the DNC servers -
- COZY BEAR (also referred to in some industry reports as CozyDuke or APT 29)
- FANCY BEAR (also known as Sofacy or APT 28)
Both are hacking groups that are extremely well run, use sophisticated malware whose thoroughness indicates an extreme amount of testing and refinement, which in turn indicates a level of funding that can only be sustained by a "Nation State". They identify that Nation-State as Russia.
The APT 29 group was behind the hack of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and other computers deep in the US Federal Government. The DNC hack may have been part of that same hacking project.
That the DNC hasn't allowed the FBI et al to examine their servers has been controversial.