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Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin in the uniform of a Russian Navy officer. (Photo : Getty Images)
The Russian intelligence service claims hackers penetrated computer systems in government agencies and defense companies after being accused by U.S. government officials of stealing data from the Democratic Party at the behest of Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump.
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Russia’s spooks, the Federal Security Service of the Russian Federation or the FSB (Federal’naya sluzhba bezopasnosti Rossiyskoy Federatsii), said hackers infected computers in 20 organizations with spyware. It described the malware attack as “targeted and coordinated,” and noted some of these networks were hit before by other hack attacks.
“Information technology resources of government agencies, scientific and military institutions, defense industry companies and other entities involved in crucial infrastructure have been infected,” said the FSB, which succeeded the infamous KGB that gained notoriety during the Cold War.
Russian president Vladimir Putin worked as a KGB intelligence officer before entering politics and did a lengthy tour of duty in East Germany. He began working for the KGB in 1975 and retired from the agency in 1991 with the rank of Colonel. Putin later became head of the FSB.
FSB didn’t name the attackers but there’s little doubt it’s pointing at the West. Its allegations came immediately after U.S. government officials accused the FSB of cyber attacks on the U.S. Democratic National Committee (DNC) and the fundraising committee for Democratic candidates for the U.S. House of Representatives.
The FBI and private cyber security firms said there is strong evidence Russia engineered the DNC hack to release sensitive party emails so as to influence the U.S. presidential election in favor of Donald Trump. Russia staunchly denies its involvement in the incident, however.
The Russian cyber break-ins came less than two days after Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump called for Russia to hack into Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton’s emails. Russian hackers also hit the servers of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, the party’s fundraising group.
“Russia, if you’re listening, I hope you’re able to find the 30,000 emails that are missing … I think you’ll be rewarded mightily by our press,” said Trump on July 28. A day later, US law enforcement reported attacks on the Clinton Campaign’s email files.
Previously, the Russians had broken into the files of the Democratic National Committee, releasing emails that showed the DNC had favored the Clinton campaign and had unfairly stacked the deck against her rival, Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT).
The U.S. National Security Agency’s anti-hacking unit is tracking Russian cyber spies to determine if they are responsible for the breach at the Democratic National Committee.