Guccifer & me

Generic picture of mysterious hacker

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US intelligence companies dispute that Guccifer is only one particular person

Who or what’s Guccifer US intelligence companies imagine the mysterious hacker persona was central to efforts to intervene with final yr’s American election and accountable for distributing hacked paperwork that embarrassed the Democratic Get together. However now Guccifer 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 a web-based dialogue with Guccifer 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 may assume. Simply ship him a tweet.

In the summertime of 2016 the hacker, going by the identify Guccifer, leaked a trove of paperwork from the Democratic Nationwide Committee (DNC) to Wikileaks, which then made the fabric public.

The revelations have been embarrassing for the Democrats and the Hillary Clinton marketing campaign, and resulted within the resignation of party chair Debbie Wasserman-Shultz.

Though Guccifer took his identify from a Romanian hacker – the unique Guccifer hacked emails belonging to American and Romanian officials, and is at the moment in jail – suspicion instantly fell on Russia.

Metadata connected to the leaked paperwork was in Russian not Romanian. Analysts decided that Guccifer had used a Russian server. A number of safety consultants 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 nicely.

“He did reply some questions in Romanian,” however the solutions have been very fundamental, 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 positively not a local Romanian speaker.”

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Throughout our exchanges in October – and till the current day – Guccifer 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 knowledge was despatched to me through encrypted e-mail. However regardless of the cloak-and-dagger presentation, the fabric was in the end disappointing – a mishmash of previous tales, publically accessible paperwork which have been slightly uninteresting, and others which have been apparent forgeries.

I requested him about his motivations. He stated he believed that folks have the correct to know what is going on on within the election course of.

Attempting to get pleasant journalists to write 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 hacks.

“That is truly one thing that we have coined ‘direct advocacy’,” Foster says. “These false hactivists attain out to journalists but additionally different people, safety blogs, and so forth to get them to publicise the exercise that they have been engaged in and generally even to spin specific narratives round these leaks as nicely.”

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 offered to President Obama and President-Elect Trump.

One of many report’s key judgements learn: “We assess with excessive confidence that Russian navy intelligence (Normal Employees Predominant Intelligence Directorate or GRU) used the Guccifer persona and to launch US sufferer knowledge obtained in cyber operations publicly and in exclusives to media retailers and relayed materials to WikiLeaks.”

It added: “Guccifer, who claimed to be an unbiased Romanian hacker, made a number of contradictory statements and false claims about his seemingly Russian id all through the election. Press reporting suggests multiple particular person claiming to be Guccifer interacted with journalists.”

So may there be a number of individuals concerned in working the Guccifer persona? Lee Foster from Fireeye believes so.

“It might be one one who truly takes care of the twitter account or it could be a part of a crew,” he instructed Trending. “However what we actually can say based mostly on the dimensions of the exercise that we’re seeing – that encompasses all the things from this preliminary breach during to the creation of those faux personas to push the knowledge by way of to the trolling exercise making an attempt to push narratives round these leaks – this isn’t a one particular person effort. There’s fairly clearly a concerted and really nicely resourced and albeit refined operation that’s making all of these items come collectively.”

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Late on Thursday, Guccifer broke his two-month silence to answer the US intelligence companies report. “Right here I’m once more, my mates!” he announced on his blog.

“I might prefer to make it clear sufficient that these accusations are unfounded,” the hacker wrote. “I’ve completely no relation to the Russian authorities. I might prefer to inform you 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 model.

“What does not actually matter right here is the personas themselves. What issues is to what extent does sort of exercise proceed and probably increase as nicely. We’re already on the trolling aspect seeing a redirection in direction of European elections developing, notably France and Germany in 2017,” he says.

After the report, and his weblog re-emergence, I attempted as soon as extra to contact Guccifer on Twitter.

He hasn’t responded.

Weblog by Mike Wendling

Subsequent story: ‘Why I dropped the case against the man who groped me’

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