Who or what’s Guccifer 2.zero? US intelligence companies consider the mysterious hacker persona was central to efforts to intervene with final yr’s American election and chargeable for distributing hacked paperwork that embarrassed the Democratic Get together. However now Guccifer 2.zero has damaged a two-month silence to disclaim any connection to Russia. Within the run as much as Donald Trump’s victory, BBC Trending’s Mike Wendling struck up an internet dialogue with Guccifer 2.zero to attempt to probe the hacker’s motives.
It turned out that speaking to one of many world’s most infamous hackers was simpler than you would possibly suppose. Simply ship him a tweet.
In the summertime of 2016 the hacker, going by the identify Guccifer 2.zero, leaked a trove of paperwork from the Democratic Nationwide Committee (DNC) to Wikileaks, which then made the fabric public.
The revelations had been embarrassing for the Democrats and the Hillary Clinton marketing campaign, and resulted within the resignation of party chair Debbie Wasserman-Shultz.
Though Guccifer 2.zero took his identify from a Romanian hacker – the unique Guccifer hacked emails belonging to American and Romanian officials, and is presently in jail – suspicion instantly fell on Russia.
Metadata hooked up to the leaked paperwork was in Russian not Romanian. Analysts decided that Guccifer 2.zero had used a Russian server. A number of safety specialists traced the leak to Russian intelligence.
Lorenzo Franceschi-Bicchierai, a journalist with Vice’s Motherboard, chatted with the hacker in Romanian within the days after the DNC hack. The issue was, Guccifer did not appear to talk the language very properly.
“He did reply some questions in Romanian,” however the solutions had been very primary, Franceschi-Bicchierai instructed BBC Trending.
“I confirmed these solutions to individuals who did communicate Romanian and so they all agreed he wasn’t a Romanian speaker,” Franceschi-Bicchierai says. “We later put the dialog to linguists and never everybody agreed that he was a Russian speaker however he was undoubtedly not a local Romanian speaker.”
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Throughout our exchanges in October – and till the current day – Guccifer 2.zero continued to disclaim having something to do with Russia.
He additionally claimed to have extra incriminating paperwork on Hillary Clinton – paperwork which he urged me to publish.
The data was despatched to me through encrypted electronic mail. However regardless of the cloak-and-dagger presentation, the fabric was in the end disappointing – a mishmash of outdated tales, publically accessible paperwork which had been relatively uninteresting, and others which had been apparent forgeries.
I requested him about his motivations. He mentioned he believed that folks have the proper to know what is going on on within the election course of.
Making an attempt to get pleasant journalists to jot down sympathetic tales is a standard tactic of Russia’s on-line intelligence operations, says Lee Foster of FireEye, one of many large pc safety companies which has been trying into the Guccifer 2.zero hacks.
“That is truly one thing that we have coined ‘direct advocacy’,” Foster says. “These false hactivists attain out to journalists but in addition different people, safety blogs, and so forth to get them to publicise the exercise that they have been engaged in and typically even to spin explicit narratives round these leaks as properly.”
Foster says he is extremely assured that the Russian authorities are behind the Guccifer persona. For its half, Moscow denies being behind the leaks, and Julian Assange of Wikileaks says Russia wasn’t the supply of the leaked DNC emails.
I requested Guccifer about Russia.
After that, he stopped responding to my messages.
Within the run-up to the US election in November, Guccifer warned that the Democrats would try and rig the vote. However after Donald Trump’s victory, he went silent.
Final week US intelligence chiefs launched a declassified version of a report which has been introduced to President Obama and President-Elect Trump.
One of many report’s key judgements learn: “We assess with excessive confidence that Russian army intelligence (Basic Workers Predominant Intelligence Directorate or GRU) used the Guccifer 2.zero persona and DCLeaks.com to launch US sufferer knowledge obtained in cyber operations publicly and in exclusives to media retailers and relayed materials to WikiLeaks.”
It added: “Guccifer 2.zero, who claimed to be an impartial Romanian hacker, made a number of contradictory statements and false claims about his probably Russian identification all through the election. Press reporting suggests multiple individual claiming to be Guccifer 2.zero interacted with journalists.”
So might there be a number of individuals concerned in working the Guccifer 2.zero persona? Lee Foster from Fireeye believes so.
“It could be one one that truly takes care of the twitter account or it could be a part of a group,” he instructed Trending. “However what we definitely can say primarily based on the dimensions of the exercise that we’re seeing – that encompasses every little thing from this preliminary breach all over to the creation of those pretend personas to push the data by to the trolling exercise making an attempt to push narratives round these leaks – this isn’t a one individual effort. There’s fairly clearly a concerted and really properly resourced and albeit subtle operation that’s making all of these things come collectively.”
Late on Thursday, Guccifer broke his two-month silence to answer the US intelligence companies report. “Right here I’m once more, my associates!” he announced on his blog.
“I might wish to make it clear sufficient that these accusations are unfounded,” the hacker wrote. “I’ve completely no relation to the Russian authorities. I might wish to let you know as soon as once more I used to be appearing in accordance with my private political beliefs and beliefs.”
A number of observers famous that Guccifer’s English had markedly improved.
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Donald Trump has promised a full report on hacking within 90 days of taking workplace.
Lee Foster from Fireeye says we should not get too hung up on the Guccifer 2.zero model.
“What would not actually matter right here is the personas themselves. What issues is to what extent does kind of exercise proceed and probably broaden as properly. We’re already on the trolling facet seeing a redirection in direction of European elections arising, significantly France and Germany in 2017,” he says.
After the report, and his weblog re-emergence, I attempted as soon as extra to contact Guccifer 2.zero on Twitter.
He hasn’t responded.
Weblog by Mike Wendling
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