Russian military hackers are at it again, and it looks like their ultimate target this time is Joe Biden.
Russian spies have been hacking into computers used by Burisma, the Ukrainian gas company where the former vice president’s son, Hunter, was once a member of the board of directors.
Joe Biden is a leading candidate for the Democratic nomination to oppose Donald Trump in November’s presidential election.
“The hacking attempts against Burisma … began in early November, as talk of the Bidens, Ukraine and impeachment was dominating the news in the United States,” says the New York Times, which broke the story on Monday.
The newspaper quotes security experts as saying “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 Mr. 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.”
House Intelligence Chairman Adam Schiff (D-CA) told MSNBC on Monday night “that he wants to know more about the alleged attack on Burisma, including whether U.S. intelligence agencies were aware of it,” says Politico.
If the report about the Russians is true, Schiff said, it’s clear that “they don’t want Joe Biden.”
The Reuters news agency says it was told by “a source close to Burisma” that “the company’s website had been subject to multiple break-in attempts over the past six months but did not provide further details.”
A California cybersecurity firm, Area 1, apparently was the first to detect the hacking activity by the Russian military intelligence agency, GRU on New Year’s Eve, when other experts were less likely to be watching.
GRU — nicknamed “Fancy Bear” by civilian security experts — is the same hacking group that got into the Democratic National Committee’s computer system in 2016 in an effort to disrupt that year’s election and hinder Hillary Clinton’s campaign against Trump. The Russians now appear to be trying the same thing against Biden.
“You can see this attack really is starting to parallel with what we saw in 2016,” Oren Falkowitz, Area 1’s chief executive, told Reuters in an interview.
GRU’s current hacking efforts involve “phishing,” in which attackers try to trick their targets into giving up their data by enticing them with fake, but seemingly authentic, emails and websites.
“The timing of the GRU’s campaign in relation to the 2020 U.S. elections raises the spectre that this is an early warning of what we have anticipated since the successful cyberattacks undertaken during the 2016 U.S. elections,” Area 1 said in its Monday report.
The scariest thing about the reports of the Russians allegedly hacking Burisma in search of dirt on Biden is that there is very little evidence that our institutions are any better able to handle election interference in 2020 than they were in 2016.