Rus­sian mil­i­tary hack­ers may be help­ing Trump

San Francisco Chronicle - - WORLD - By Ni­cole Perlroth and Matthew Rosenberg Ni­cole Perlroth and Matthew Rosenberg are writ­ers for the New York Times.

With Pres­i­dent Trump fac­ing an im­peach­ment trial over his ef­forts to pres­sure Ukraine to in­ves­ti­gate former Vice Pres­i­dent Joe Bi­den and his son Hunter Bi­den, Rus­sian mil­i­tary hack­ers have been bor­ing into the Ukrainian gas com­pany at the cen­ter of the af­fair, ac­cord­ing to se­cu­rity ex­perts.

The hack­ing at­tempts against Burisma, the Ukrainian gas com­pany on whose board Hunter Bi­den served, be­gan in early Novem­ber as talk of the Bi­dens, Ukraine and im­peach­ment was dom­i­nat­ing the news in the United States.

It is not yet clear what the hack­ers found, or pre­cisely what they were search­ing for. But the ex­perts say the tim­ing and scale of the at­tacks sug­gest that the Rus­sians could be search­ing for po­ten­tially em­bar­rass­ing ma­te­rial on the Bi­dens — the same kind of in­for­ma­tion that Trump wanted from Ukraine when he pressed for an in­ves­ti­ga­tion of the Bi­dens and Burisma, set­ting off a chain of events that led to his im­peach­ment.

The Rus­sian tac­tics are strik­ingly sim­i­lar to what U.S. in­tel­li­gence agen­cies say was Rus­sia’s hack­ing of emails from Hil­lary Clin­ton’s cam­paign chair­man and the Demo­cratic Na­tional Com­mit­tee dur­ing the 2016 pres­i­den­tial cam­paign. In that case, once they had the emails, the Rus­sians used trolls to spread and spin the ma­te­rial, and built an echo cham­ber to widen its ef­fect.

Then, as now, the Rus­sian hack­ers from a mil­i­tary in­tel­li­gence unit known for­merly as the GRU, and to pri­vate re­searchers by the alias “Fancy Bear,” used so­called phish­ing emails that ap­pear de­signed to steal user­names and pass­words, ac­cord­ing to Area1, the Sil­i­con Val­ley se­cu­rity firm that de­tected the hack­ing. In this in­stance, the hack­ers set up fake web­sites that mim­icked sign­in pages of Burisma sub­sidiaries, and have been blast­ing Burisma em­ploy­ees with emails meant to look like they are com­ing from in­side the com­pany.

The hack­ers fooled some of them into hand­ing over their lo­gin cre­den­tials, and man­aged to get in­side one of Burisma’s servers, Area1 said.

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