As the juicy, position-felling tidits of the DNC email hack were processed over the weekend, a suspicion over who was behind the hack gained traction, and evidence, as we headed into Monday: It was Russian hackers who broke into the DNC’s email servers and then passed on about 19,000 emails to WikiLeaks, which then released the emails right before the start of the Democratic National Convention. The timing, according to Wikileaks’ Twitter account, had to do with the speed of their ability to verify “as fast as resources permitted.”
#DNCLeak: WikiLeaks chose the publishing date. As usual, we published as soon as the docs were verified & as fast as resources permitted.
— WikiLeaks (@wikileaks) July 24, 2016
The serendipity of the timing–turning the DNC, expected to be a fairly low-drama alternative to the hot mess of an RNC we witnessed last week, into its own hot mess of a convention–was for some less Deus ex Machina and more Deus ex machinations of an authoritarian state meddling in the affairs of others. Minus the Deus.
Here’s Defense One technology editor Patrick Tucker:
Close your eyes and imagine that a hacking group backed by Russian President Vladimir Putin broke into the email system of a major U.S. political party. The group stole thousands of sensitive messages and then published them through an obliging third party in a way that was strategically timed to influence the United States presidential election. Now open your eyes, because that’s what just happened.
Tucker backs that up with a hyperlinked timeline that serves double-duty as a running tally of evidence Russia is behind the hack, before pointing out the fact that Wikileaks’ verification process did not include the withholding of critical personal information:
The use of Wikileaks as the publishing platform served to legitimize the information dump, which also contains a large amount of personal information related to democratic donors such as social security and credit card numbers. This suggests that Wikileaks didn’t perform a thorough analysis of the documents before they released them, or simply didn’t care.
The initial charge that Russia was behind this came from a May review of DNC’s servers by security firm CrowdStrike, a story initially reported back in June.
It was backed up by “two competing cybersecurity companies,” writes Rise of the Machines author Thomas Rid in Motherboard. The firms “confirmed CrowdStrike’s initial findings that Russian intelligence indeed hacked Clinton’s campaign. The forensic evidence that links network breaches to known groups is solid: used and reused tools, methods, infrastructure, even unique encryption keys.”
The answer is looking more and more like a definitive yes, a probably attempt by Vladimir Putin to tilt the election scales toward Donald Trump as Russia’s mutual admiration and benfit society bond with the Trump campaign becomes clearer each day.