Published: Tue, January 14, 2020
Global News | By Blake Casey

Russia Hacked Ukrainian Company Linked To Trump Impeachment, Security Firm Says

Russia Hacked Ukrainian Company Linked To Trump Impeachment, Security Firm Says

Russian leader Vladmir Putin's military hackers recently launched a successful phishing campaign against employees at Burisma, the Ukrainian gas company at the center of the "quid pro quo" scandal that lead to Donald Trump's impeachment.

Cybersecurity experts at California-based Area 1 Security released a report on January 13 that found Burisma Holdings, where the son of presidential front-runner Joe Biden sat on the board, was successfully penetrated in a wide-ranging phishing campaign that stole e-mail credentials of employees.

Russian military hackers tried to steal emails from the Ukrainian energy firm where Hunter Biden, the son of Democratic presidential contender Joe Biden, had a seat on the board, a USA cybersecurity firm said on Monday.

The New York Times in 2019 reported that the US Federal Election Commission had green-lighted Silicon Valley's Area 1 to handle cyber-assistance for the 2020 US presidential candidates in defending their campaigns from various malicious online attacks.

"Russia could leak Burisma emails, and slip in some doctored emails, to harm Biden later on, if he is the Democratic nominee", he wrote on Twitter.

The tactics mirror the Russian hacking of the Democratic National Committee in 2016, Area 1 co-founder Oren Falkowitz told the Times.

Burisma employed the vice president's son Hunter Biden as a board member in May 2014.

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"You're looking at a repeat, potentially, of 2016". Hunter Biden stopped working with the company in 2019.

U.S. Rep. Adam Schiff, D-California, who chairs the House Intelligence Committee and has been a key figure in Trump's impeachment, said the alleged hacking shows that Russian Federation was still interested in interfering with U.S. elections.

In the report, Area 1's co-founders Oren J Falkowitz and Blake Darche said: "The timing of the GRU's campaign in relation to the 2020 USA elections raises the specter that this is an early warning of what we have anticipated since the successful cyberattacks undertaken during the 2016 United States elections". In both instances, hackers from the Russian military intelligence unit previously known as the GRU used phishing emails to steal login data.

Area 1 said its researchers connected the phishing campaign targeting Burisma to an effort earlier a year ago that targeted Kvartal 95, a media organization founded by Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy.

In July, the U.S. Federal Elections Commission gave Area 1 permission to offer its services to candidates for federal elected office and political committees at the same low rates it charges non-profits.

That's about two months after a whistleblower complaint was made that accused Trump of pressuring the Ukrainian president to investigate the Bidens. That email instructed Podesta to click a special link to pick out a new password for his Google email account - a process the hackers then monitored, giving them full access to his account. Trump is seeking reelection and Biden is a potential opponent out of a dozen Democrats seeking their party's nomination.

"Now we know that Vladimir Putin also sees Joe Biden as a threat", he added. "Any American president who had not repeatedly encouraged foreign interventions of this kind would immediately condemn this attack on the sovereignty of our elections", Biden spokesman Andrew Bates said.

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