Rus­sian hack­ers plan to tar­get US Se­nate

The Herald - - INTERNATIONAL -

THE Rus­sian gov­ern­men­tal­igned hack­ers who pen­e­trated the Demo­cratic Party in the US have spent the past few months lay­ing the ground­work for an e spi­onage cam­paign against the Se­nate, a cy­ber­se­cu­rity firm has said.

The rev­e­la­tion sug­gests the group, of­ten nick­named Fancy Bear, whose hack­ing cam­paign scram­bled the 2016 US elec­toral con­test, is try­ing to gather the emails of Amer­ica’s po­lit­i­cal elite.

“They’re still very ac­tive – in mak­ing prepa­ra­tions at least – to in­flu­ence public opin­ion again,” said Feike Hac­que­bord, a se­cu­rity re­searcher at Trend Mi­cro, which pub­lished the re­port.

“They are look­ing for in­for­ma­tion they might leak later.”

The Se­nate Sergeant at Arms of­fice, which is re­spon­si­ble for the up­per house’s se­cu­rity, de­clined to com­ment.

Mr Hac­que­bord said he based his re­port on the dis­cov­ery of a clutch of sus­pi­cious-look­ing web­sites dressed up to look like the Se­nate’s in­ter­nal email sys­tem.

He then cross-ref­er­enced dig­i­tal fin­ger­prints linked with those sites to ones used al­most ex­clu­sively by Fancy Bear. Tokyo-based Trend Mi­cro pre­vi­ously drew in­ter­na­tional at­ten­tion when it used the tech­nique to un­cover de­coy web­sites ap­par­ently set up to har­vest emails from Em­manuel Macron’s French pres­i­den­tial cam­paign last April.

The dis­cov­ery was fol­lowed two months later by a still-un­ex­plained pub­li­ca­tion of pri­vate emails from sev­eral Macron staffers in the fi­nal days of the race.

Mr Hac­que­bord said the rogue Se­nate sites – set up in June and Septem­ber 2017 – matched their French coun­ter­parts.

“That is ex­actly the way they at­tacked the Macron cam­paign in France,” he said.

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