Hackers pursued Putin foes everywhere
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figures, U. S. defense contractors and thousands of others of interest to the Kremlin, according to a previously unpublished digital hit list obtained by The Associated Press.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.