Cyber Group Finds Link Between DNC Breaches, Russian Hostility Against Ukraine

Vladimir Putin
AP

The Russian hackers who launched a cyber attack against the Democratic National Committee earlier this year used a malicious software similar to that used to target the Ukrainian military, computer security experts determined.

CrowdStrike, the California-based cyber security firm that investigated the DNC hacks, said in a report released Thursday the malware used in the political breaches was a "variant" of software used by the Russian military to locate and kill Ukrainian troops who were fighting Russian-backed separatists, the Wall Street Journal reported.

CrowdStrike determined the software used against the Ukrainian military was created by hacking group Fancy Bear, which U.S. officials believe is linked to the Russian intelligence agency GRU. The firm announced in June that Fancy Bear was one of two Russian hacking groups that had targeted the DNC.

CrowdStrike co-founder Dmitri Alperovitch said the findings offer further evidence that "it wasn't a 400-pound guy in his bed" who launched cyber attacks against Democratic political networks, but Russian intelligence agencies.

President-elect Donald Trump has repeatedly denied the Kremlin's involvement despite consensus among all 17 U.S. intelligence agencies that Moscow was behind the election-related hacks.

In an interview with Time Magazine published earlier this month, Trump suggested the cyber attacks could have been directed by "some guy in his home in New Jersey."

The CIA concluded earlier this month the breaches were aimed to tip the U.S. presidential election toward Trump, who has expressed support for Russian President Vladimir Putin. Trump called the assessment "ridiculous." The FBI later endorsed the CIA finding.

Republican and Democratic lawmakers launched an investigation into the Russian cyber attacks. President Obama has ordered the intelligence community to produce a report about the effect of the breaches before the end of his term next month.