Individual claims responsibility for hacking the Democratic National Committee

By Evan Blake
17 June 2016

The release of documents by hacker “Guccifer 2.0,” who has claimed sole responsibility for accessing the Democratic National Committee (DNC) servers and stealing “many thousands” of documents, upends the official narrative put forward by the DNC and the bourgeois press, who have blamed the hacks on Russian intelligence agencies, the latest in a string of inflammatory accusations against Moscow.

The official narrative was first elaborated by the Washington Post, which broke the story in a lengthy article published Tuesday, provocatively titled “Russian government hackers penetrated DNC, stole opposition research on Trump.” In the article, clearly vetted by figures in the US political and military establishment, the DNC first publicly acknowledged that their servers had been hacked repeatedly over the past year and again in late April.

After learning of the most recent hack, the DNC claims to have immediately enlisted CrowdStrike, a security technology company with intimate ties to the American state. CrowdStrike President Shawn Henry and Senior Vice President of Legal Affairs Steve Chabinsky are the former executive assistant director of the FBI’s Criminal, Cyber, Response and Services Branch and former deputy assistant director of the FBI’s Cyber Division, respectively.

CrowdStrike’s chief technology officer, Dmitri Alperovitch, himself a senior fellow at the influential Atlantic Council think-tank, has led the strident denunciations of Russia for the alleged hack into the DNC. He told the Post that CrowdStrike identified two separate hacker groups, both of which he asserted work for the Russian government.

Alperovitch stated that one group, which CrowdStrike dubbed Cozy Bear, accessed the DNC’s servers last summer and continually had access over the past year, while the other, nicknamed Fancy Bear, broke into the network in late April and downloaded opposition research files on Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump. Alperovitch proclaimed that Fancy Bear is believed to work for the GRU, Russia’s military intelligence service, while Cozy Bear might work for the Federal Security Service, once headed by Putin.

Regarding the lack of coordination between the two groups, Alperovitch told the Post, “We have seen them steal assets from one another, refuse to collaborate. They’re all vying for power, to sell Putin on how good they are.”

Alperovitch also accused the two groups of hacking government agencies, tech companies, and defense contractors across the world, and singled out Cozy Bear for infiltrating the unclassified e-mail systems of the White House, State Department and Joint Chiefs of Staff in 2014. He said that over the past two years, Russia has carried out “a thousand-fold increase in its espionage campaign against the West. They feel under siege.”

Seeking to further whip up anti-Russian chauvinism, the Post declared, “The depth of the penetration reflects the skill and determination of the United States’ top cyber-adversary as Russia goes after strategic targets, from the White House and State Department to political campaign organizations.”

The Post, CrowdStrike and the DNC provide no evidence to support these inflammatory accusations, which have coincided with the launching of Operation Anaconda—the largest NATO maneuver since the end of the Cold War—near the Russian border.

Responding to the allegations of Russian responsibility for the hack, Dmitry Peskov, the Kremlin’s spokesman, told the Reuters news agency in Moscow, “I completely rule out a possibility that the government or the government bodies have been involved in this.”

On Wednesday, self-proclaimed hacker “Guccifer 2.0” (a reference to Guccifer, a Romanian hacker currently awaiting prosecution in Virginia for a number of high-profile hacks) released a trove of documents produced by the DNC, including the 237-page opposition research report on Donald Trump and a list of million-dollar-plus donors to the Democratic Party.

In an indication that the Washington Post narrative was fabricated, Guccifer 2.0 also released multiple lists of DNC donors. Michael Sussmann, a DNC lawyer, had told the Post, “It appears that no financial information or sensitive employee, donor or voter information was accessed by the Russian attackers.”

In a blog post in which he provides links to these documents, Guccifer 2.0 mocked CrowdStrike’s claim that the DNC was hacked by “sophisticated” hacker groups, instead asserting, “it was easy, very easy.”

Guccifer 2.0 also claims to have downloaded “many thousands” of documents from the DNC’s servers, contrary to the claims of the DNC and CrowdStrike. He writes, “The main part of the papers, thousands of files and mails, I gave to Wikileaks. They will publish them soon.”

In light of the documents released by Guccifer 2.0, the story presented by the DNC and CrowdStrike appears to be concocted as another provocation against Russia, an increasingly common occurrence since the 2014 NATO-backed, fascist-led coup in Ukraine.