Home / News / Russian hackers are laying the grounds to spy on the US Senate, cybersecurity organisation says

Russian hackers are laying the grounds to spy on the US Senate, cybersecurity organisation says


Russian President Vladimir Putin attends a state awards rite for military crew who served in Syria, at the Kremlin in Moscow, Russia Dec 28, 2017. REUTERS/Kirill Kudryavtsev/Pool
Russian
President Vladimir Putin attends a state awards rite for
military crew who served in Syria, at the Kremlin in
Moscow

Thomson
Reuters


  • The cybersecurity organisation Trend Micro found justification that
    Russian hackers targeted the US Senate’s inner email system
    in mid-2017.
  • The phishing emails, while not modernized in nature, are
    mostly “the starting indicate of serve attacks that include
    hidden supportive information from email inboxes,” the researchers
    said.
  • The Russian hackers used the same methods last year to
    try to steal emails from the email server used by French
    President Emmanuel Macron’s domestic party.

The US Senate was targeted last year by the same hacking group
that pennyless into the Democratic National Committee servers during
the 2016 presidential election, according to the cybersecurity organisation Trend
Micro. 

The investigate organisation found that phishing sites were set up by Pawn
Storm, also famous as Fancy Bear or APT28, mimicking the Senate’s
inner email complement in an try to benefit users’ login
credentials.

“By looking at the digital fingerprints of these phishing
sites and comparing them with a vast information set that spans almost
5 years, we can singly describe them to a couple of Pawn Storm
incidents in 2016 and 2017,” the researchers wrote. 

They combined that the phishing emails, while not modernized in
nature, are mostly “the starting indicate of serve attacks that
embody hidden supportive information from email inboxes.”

Trend Micro researcher Feike Hacquebord told Business
Insider on Friday that the organisation does not have any inside
information that would concede it to establish either the phishing
attempts were successful. 

The firm, Hacquebord added, doesn’t charge hacks to
certain governments as a matter of policy. But the digital
fingerprints are “very unique,” he said, to the indicate where it’s
“almost obvious” that Pawn Storm was behind the
cyberattacks.

The 
June 2017 phishing attempts would not
have been the first time the Russia-linked hackers tried to
penetrate the US Senate. 

In its extensive
research of Fancy Bear’s targets during the presidential
election, the Associated Press found that Senate staffers Robert
Zarate, Josh Holmes, and Jason Thielman were targeted between
2015-2016.

Fancy Bear had a “digital hit list” via that
duration that targeted a far-reaching operation of Russia’s perceived
enemies, including former Secretary of State John Kerry,
Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko, anti-corruption
romantic Alexei Navalny, and half of the feminist criticism punk
stone organisation Pussy Riot.

Trend Micro pronounced that the Senate’s Active Directory
Federation Services (ADFS), which is bascially its inner email
system, “is not reachable on the open internet.” But phishing of
users’ certification on a server “that is behind a firewall still
creates sense.”

“In case an actor already has a foothold in an organization
after compromising one user account, credential phishing could
help him get closer to high form users of interest,” the
researchers wrote. 

Hacquebord pronounced he doesn’t consider it’s scold to contend that
the methods Pawn Storm used were not advanced.

“They have to know who they wish to target, and the timing
is important,” Hacquebord said. “The techniques may not be
modernized but the social engineering is. They’ve been using these
same strategy for utterly some time, and it’s been utterly effective.
They are also very persistent.”

He combined that Pawn Storm was using zero-days,
or program vulnerabilities that can be exploited by hackers
before the developer discovers and rags it.

“These 0 days are costly on the black market,” Hacquebord
said. “This is not the things of amateurs.”

Trend Micro was the organisation that unclosed Fancy Bear’s
attempts to penetrate into French President Emmanuel Macron’s email
account. The researchers found that the hackers had combined a
phishing domain that impersonated the site that was used by En
March, the domestic party Macron founded in 2016. 

The hackers used the same technique to try to infiltrate
the Senate, Hacquebord told the AP.

“That is accurately the way they pounded the Macron campaign
in France,” he said.

Fancy Bear also targeted the Iranian presidential election in May
2017, the researchers found, by environment up a phishing site
targeting chmail.ir users.

“We were means to collect justification that credential phishing
emails were sent
to 

chmail.ir
 users on May 18,
2017, just one day before the presidential elections in Iran,”
the organisation wrote. “We have formerly reported identical targeted
activity against domestic organizations in France, Germany,
Montenegro, Turkey, Ukraine, and the United States.”

Russian hackers also targeted the World Anti-Doping Agency
(WADA), homing in on 
a sum of 26 athletes. Four of
them were American — Ariana Washington, Brady Ellison,
Connor Jaeger, and Lauren Hernandez.

The penetrate came after the
 International
Olympic Committee found justification of state-sponsored
and widespread doping in Russia’s Olympic athletes, many of
whom were barred from the 2016 Rio Games and the Paralympics as a
result.

Fancy Bear also “sought active hit with mainstream
media” after the WADA was compromised, according to Trend Micro,
in an try to change what was published. 

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