The Slatest

Russia Believed to Have Hacked Ukrainian Gas Company at Heart of Trump Impeachment

Russia's President Vladimir Putin during press conference at the Kremlin in Moscow, on Jan. 11, 2020.
Russia’s President Vladimir Putin during press conference at the Kremlin in Moscow, on Jan. 11, 2020. MIKHAIL KLIMENTYEV/Getty Images

Russia is at it again. Shocking, I know. Here we are just weeks away from the Iowa Caucus and the New York Times reports a U.S. cybersecurity firm says it has evidence that Russian military hackers have managed to hack into Burisma Holdings, the Ukrainian energy company that President Trump is trying to sink political rival Joe Biden with. Wonder what they’re after? Perhaps something embarrassing about Joe Biden’s son, Hunter Biden, who once sat on the board of the company? Here we go again.

The hack, which was initiated in November as impeachment hearings were ramping up in Washington, exhibits all the tell-tale signs of Russian intelligence deploying similar tactics to the 2016 hack of Hillary Clinton campaign chair John Podesta’s email and the Democratic National Committee. In both those cases, months after the intrusion, private and often damaging information was littered around the internet to devastating effect. The cybersecurity company Area 1 noticed this latest phishing campaign being waged against Ukrainian companies earlier this month and pieced together a common thread: all of the companies were subsidiaries of Burisma Holdings, with the exception of one TV production company founded by the Ukrainian president.

“Then, as now, the Russian hackers from a military intelligence unit known formerly as the G.R.U., and to private researchers by the alias ‘Fancy Bear,’ used so-called phishing emails that appear designed to steal usernames and passwords, according to Area 1, the Silicon Valley security firm that detected the hacking. In this instance, the hackers set up fake websites that mimicked sign-in pages of Burisma subsidiaries, and have been blasting Burisma employees with emails meant to look like they are coming from inside the company,” the Times reports. “The Russian attacks on Burisma appear to be running parallel to an effort by Russian spies in Ukraine to dig up information in the analog world that could embarrass the Bidens, according to an American security official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss sensitive intelligence. The spies, the official said, are trying to penetrate Burisma and working sources in the Ukrainian government in search of emails, financial records and legal documents.”