Hack­ers pur­sued Putin foes ev­ery­where

The Mercury News Weekend - - NEWS - By Raphael Sat­ter, Jeff Donn and JustinMy­ers

WASHINGTON » It wasn’t justHil­lary Clin­ton’s emails they went af­ter.

The hack­ers who dis­rupted the U. S. pres­i­den­tial elec­tion last year had am­bi­tions that stretched across the globe, tar­get­ing the emails of Ukrainian of­fi­cers, Rus­sian op­po­si­tion fig­ures, U. S. de­fense con­trac­tors and thou­sands of oth­ers of in­ter­est to the Krem­lin, ac­cord­ing to a pre­vi­ously un­pub­lished dig­i­tal hit list ob­tained by The As­so­ci­ated Press.

The list pro­vides the most de­tailed foren­sic evi- dence yet of the close align­ment be­tween the hack­ers and the Rus­sian govern­ment, ex­pos­ing an op­er­a­tion that went back years and tried to break into the in­boxes of 4,700 Gmail users — from the pope’s rep­re­sen­ta­tive in Kiev to the punk band Pussy Riot in Moscow. The tar­gets were in 116 coun­tries.

“It’s a wish list of who you’d want to tar­get to fur­ther Rus­sian in­ter­ests,” said Keir Giles, direc­tor of the Con­flict Stud­ies Re­search Cen­ter in Cam­bridge, Eng­land, and one of five out­side ex­perts who re­viewed the AP’s find­ings. He said the data was “a master list of in­di­vid­u­als whomRus­sia would like to spy on, em­bar­rass, dis­credit or si­lence.”

The AP find­ings draw on 19,000 ma­li­cious links col­lected by cy­ber­se­cu­rity firm Se­cure­works, dozens of rogue emails, and in­ter­views with more than 100 hack­ing tar­gets.

Se­cure­works found the data af­ter a hack­ing group known as Fancy Bear ac­ci­den­tally ex­posed part of its phish­ing op­er­a­tion to the in­ter­net. The list re­vealed a di­rect line be­tween the hack­ers and the leaks that rocked the pres­i­den­tial con­test in its fi­nal stages, most no­tably the pri­vate emails of Clin­ton cam­paign chair­man John Podesta.

The is­sue of who hacked the Democrats is back in the na­tional spot­light fol­low­ing the rev­e­la­tion Mon­day that a Don­ald Trump cam­paign of­fi­cial, Ge­orge Pa­padopou­los, was briefed early last year that the Rus­sians had “dirt” on Clin­ton, in­clud­ing “thou­sands of emails.”

Krem­lin spokesman Dmitry Peskov called the no­tion that Rus­sia in­ter­fered “un­founded.” But the list pow­er­ful ev­i­dence that the Krem­lin did just that.

Se­cure­works’ list cov­ers the pe­riod be­tween March 2015 and May 2016. Most of the iden­ti­fied tar­gets were in the United States, Ukraine, Rus­sia, Ge­or­gia and Syria.

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