The hackers who upended the U.S. presidential election were 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figures, U.S. defense contractors and thousands of others of interest to the Kremlin, according to a previously unpublished digital hit list. This was reported by The Associated Press.
The list provides the most detailed forensic evidence yet of the close alignment between the hackers and the Russian government, exposing an operation that stretched back years and tried to break into the inboxes of 4,700 Gmail users across the globe — from the pope’s representative in Kyiv to the punk band Pussy Riot in Moscow.
“It’s a wish list of who you’d want to target to further Russian interests. The data was a master list of individuals whom Russia would like to spy on, embarrass, discredit or silence,” said Keir Giles, director of the Conflict Studies Research Center in Cambridge, England.
The AP findings draw on a database of 19,000 malicious links collected by cyber-security firm Secureworks, dozens of rogue emails, and interviews with more than 100 hacking targets.
Secureworks stumbled upon 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 examined by AP provides powerful evidence that the Kremlin did just that.
“This is the Kremlin and the general staff,” said Andras Racz, a specialist in Russian security policy at Pazmany Peter Catholic University in Hungary, as he examined the data.
As it was reported earlier As it was reported earlier, Google excluded Russia Today TV channel from the list of premium video services of Youtube hosting, which Google sells to advertising customers. The respective decision was made after Russian agents used digital platforms to affect the course of U.S. presidential election. Google found evidence of Russia’s attempts to meddle in the US presidential elections through spreading fakes via Gmail and Youtube.
Google states that Russian agents had spent tens of thousands of dollars on ads aimed at spreading disinformation on upcoming elections.
The ads were published on Gmail, Youtube, and DoubleClick. They were mostly advertising Hillary Clinton’s opponents in the elections – Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders. Other ads appear to have been aimed at fostering division by promoting anti-immigrant sentiment and racial animosity.