Russian hackers who broke into Democratic Party computers purposefully left evidence to prove Russia's status as a “cyberpower,” U.S. experts have claimed.
A number of experts believe that hackers left clues to their identity to showcase Russian power as a threat that Washington cannot ignore, the Reuters news agency reported Thursday.
Some 20,000 Democratic National Convention (DNC) emails were leaked to the WikiLeaks internet activism group last week ahead of the Democratic Party’s convention. The scandal has since caused DNC chairperson Debbie Wasserman Schultz to resign.
CrowdStrike, the security firm who handled the breach, as well as two more independent research firms, concluded that the Kremlin sponsored the two groups responsible for the hack.
Three U.S. intelligence officials told Reuters that the DNC hack was less sophisticated than past cyber-attacks attributed to Russian intelligence agencies or criminal groups.
One official said that hackers used Cyrillic characters, and had only worked during Russian government business hours, taking time off for Russian public holidays. Considering the high-level of expertise required for the hack, some experts believe that these "slip-ups" were deliberate clues.
“Either these guys are really sloppy, or they wanted us to know they were Russian,” the official said.
While some private sector security experts also accuse Russia of carrying out the hack, they believe that data such as the Cyrillic characters could have been left accidentally.
The act of leaving “false flags” — evidence attempting to implicate a different group or country in hacking campaigns — has also become a common practice in cyber-attacks.
The Kremlin has dismissed the claims of Russian involvement as "absurd," with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov telling reporters that he didn't "want to use four-letter words” to describe the allegations.