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How Russian Hackers Compromised the 2016 U.S. Presidential Ele 2023

How Russian Hackers Compromised the 2016 U.S. Presidential EleOn July 13, 2018, the U.S. Justice branch passed down a 29-web page indictment towards.

How Russian Hackers Compromised the 2016 U.S. Presidential Ele:

12 intelligence officials of the GRU, Russia’s military intelligence organization. on this indictment, the U.S. Justice department investigators (Robert Mueller’s group) offer granular detail of the step-by using-step hobby of these Russian hackers.

Russia’s net studies organisation How Russian Hackers Compromised the 2016 U.S. Presidential Ele:

In this text, I would really like to element for you the techniques and gear the Russians used to hack John Podesta, the Democratic Congressional campaign Committee (DCCC) and the Democratic national Committee (DNC) and compromise the 2016 U.S. Presidential election. This sort of assault is neither new or precise, however it’s far splendid for its impact upon the arena’s best superpower.

The maximum vital factor I want to go away you with right here is that this was not a especially sophisticated operation. those hacks might have been performed via any fairly nicely-skilled hacker with the time, persistence and mild assets. In most instances, the hackers relied upon tried and real techniques of social engineering to gain username and passwords in addition to to put in malware to gain get admission to to the servers.

How Russian Hackers Compromised the 2016 U.S. Presidential Ele
How Russian Hackers Compromised the 2016 U.S. Presidential Ele 2023

before I start, I need to provide the reader with some caveats. First, and predominant, i’ve skilled U.S. navy and intelligence corporations to apply nearly the precise identical strategies to compromise the laptop structures of U.S. adversaries, which includes Russia. I experience that is crucial for you–the reader– to recognise due to the fact; (1) the U.S. and different international locations use these equal techniques towards each their buddies and adversaries; (2) you could surmise i’ve a bias in my retelling those key events (I do not); (three) those strategies are not as “advanced” as a few inside the press have depicted them. all of the identical hacks can be finished via a fairly nicely-skilled hacker with unfastened and open source equipment with time and staying power.

Hack of the Clinton marketing campaign Chairman, John Podesta

In March 2016, Aleksey Lukashev, a senior Lieutenant inside the Russian military and a member of GRU Unit 26165, sent spearfishing emails (emails sent to particular individuals trying to garner their believe and initiate an movement) to John Podesta, the Chairman of the Hillary Clinton Presidential campaign. Lukashev despatched similar emails to different contributors of the Clinton marketing campaign with the hopes that a person might be enticed to click on on an embedded internet site hyperlink that regarded to come back from Google safety. The hyperlink became shortened and obscured by using a URL shortener which includes bit.ly, Goo.gl or TinyURL (it’s miles possibly they used Goo.gl as it would without difficulty be fallacious as coming from Google).

after they clicked at the link, as opposed to main Podesta and the others to a Google security website online as they predicted, it certainly cause a website and server that seemed to be a Google security internet site. The net web site then told Podesta to exchange his password (it is straightforward to clone any website the usage of httrack) and he complied. in this way, the Russian hackers took control of Podesta’s email account and proceed to down load over 50,000 emails. these emails were then sooner or later despatched to Julian Assange and WikiLeaks.

This equal method became used to benefit get entry to to the e-mail money owed of severa other Clinton marketing campaign buddies.

Hack of DCCC and other Clinton friends

In March 2016, the Russians started out reconnaissance at the Democratic Congressional marketing campaign Committee (DCCC) network. They probable used equipment such nmap, hping3 and other reconnaissance gear to acquire records on the configuration of the DCCC computer systems and community.

Lukashev and his colleague at the GRU, Ivan Yermakov, then proceeded to send more than one spearfishing emails from an account that appeared to be from a trusted Democratic celebration companion (exactly the same call with a single letter changed) to different Democratic celebration operatives, contractors and volunteers that the Russians accrued thru reconnaissance of social networking websites (Maltego is wonderful for this purpose). through sending the emails from a spoofed account from a recognized and depended on associate, they sought to advantage the accept as true with of the recipients which seemingly worked.

those spearfishing attempts asked the recipients to click on on a file named “hillary-favorable-rating.xlsx” (see “how to make the most almost Any windows system”). when they clicked on this document, it took them to a website that the Russian hackers installation to download malware (X-Agent) to the goals. you will down load the X-Agent malware source code right here. This malware turned into mounted on as a minimum 10 DCCC computer systems and enabled the Russian hackers to install keyloggers, seize screenshots and preserve get admission to to the DCCC computer systems.

The screenshots at the lowest of this text detail how even a “script-kiddie” could have finished this hack using the Social Engineering Toolkit (SET) the usage of the Spearfishing feature.


Hack of the DNC

the usage of the credentials of a DCCC contractor gathered at some stage in the spearfishing hobby,

the Russians then were able to benefit get right of entry to to the DNC server and network. This DCCC contractor had debts on both networks with the same credentials. once inner, they searched for keyword information inclusive of ‘hillary”, “cruz” and “trump”. The Russian hackers installed the X-Agent software program and began to log keystrokes and capture screenshots of key DNC employees.

Exfiltrating The information and Emails

The Russian hackers set up a virtual server in the country of Arizona paid for it with bitcoin (to remain nameless). They sent the keystrokes and screenshots from the DNC and DCCC systems to this digital server. Then, to remove and exfiltrate the big volume of files and emails, the Russian hackers compressed them with .gzip and despatched them out an encrypted tunnel using X-Tunnel (at the beginning evolved via chinese hackers, it creates a VPN-like encrypted tunnel the use of TCP-over-HTTP making it very hard to hit upon) software.


The hack of John Podesta, the DCCC and DNC have been glaringly completed by individuals of the Russian military intelligence unit (GRU). through get entry to to personal emails and files, the Russian sought–and possibly did–have an effect on the U.S. Presidential election in 2016. The strategies and equipment they used are commonplace among expert hackers. similar assaults are perpetrated via U.S. and different navy intelligence businesses together with U.S.’s NSA and the U.k’s GCHQ. moreover, the assault was no longer a complicated attack, as an alternative depending upon rudimentary spearfishing and comfortably to be had open-source gear that any professional hacker could replicate.

How Russian Hackers Compromised the 2016 U.S. Presidential Ele
How Russian Hackers Compromised the 2016 U.S. Presidential Ele 2023

Spearfishing assaults for Script-Kiddies How Russian Hackers Compromised the 2016 U.S. Presidential Ele

even though the Russian hackers almost virtually did no longer use this approach for spearfishing the Democratic party in 2016, I provide this basic academic to reveal you the way simple such an assault is even for someone with rudimentary skills.

download and installation Social Engineering Toolkit

step one is to down load and deploy the Social Engineering Toolkit (SET). This Python script became evolved particularly for sending social engineering assaults such as the Russian spearfishing.

kali > git clone https://github.com/trustedsec/social-engineer-toolkit

as soon as SET has downloaded and set up, begin SET by using entering How Russian Hackers Compromised the 2016 U.S. Presidential Ele;

kali> set

whilst SET starts, you’re greeted by a display like that beneath.

select #1 for Social Engineering attacks.

next, choose #1 for Spearfishing attack Vectors How Russian Hackers Compromised the 2016 U.S. Presidential Ele

SET now explains to you what a spearfishing attack is and the way to go approximately it.

whilst Russia set out to intrude with the 2016 election, it went all out.

Over the route of the election, a huge-ranging group of Russians probed nation voter databases for insecurities; hacked the Hillary Clinton marketing campaign, the Democratic Congressional campaign Committee and the Democratic country wide Committee; tried to hack the campaign of Sen. Marco Rubio and the Republican countrywide Committee; released politically damaging statistics on the internet; spread propaganda on Twitter, facebook, YouTube and Instagram; staged rallies in Florida and Pennsylvania; installation conferences with participants of the Trump marketing campaign and its associates; and floated a business proposition for a skyscraper in Moscow to the Trump business enterprise How Russian Hackers Compromised the 2016 U.S. Presidential Ele.

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The aim, as decided through the U.S. intelligence network and subsidized up by using proof accumulated by way of unique counsel Robert Mueller: To damage the Clinton marketing campaign, increase Trump’s possibilities and sow distrust in American democracy average How Russian Hackers Compromised the 2016 U.S. Presidential Ele.

The information of those efforts have pop out in drips and drabs for the reason that 2016 election ended, with data revealed by a memo from intelligence corporations, court files filed through Mueller, testimony from Trump buddies in courtroom and before Congress and investigative news reports.

Mueller has finished a very last document to attorney wellknown William Barr detailing his findings, however to date best a brief precis to Congress by way of Barr has been launched. however at the same time as lawmakers and the general public wait to see the document, the large photo of Russian have an impact on efforts has been to be had for a while.

right here’s what we know about how Russia worked to manipulate the 2016 election.

Probing kingdom voter databases How Russian Hackers Compromised the 2016 U.S. Presidential Ele
U.S. intelligence agencies have concluded that Russia did not alter real votes at some stage in the 2016 election. however Russians did target voter registration systems or state websites in at the least 21 states earlier than Election Day, completely accessed some states’ systems and stole loads of hundreds of voters’ private records How Russian Hackers Compromised the 2016 U.S. Presidential Ele.

The FBI alerted states to the threat about two months earlier than the 2016 election whilst hackers accessed voter registration databases in Illinois and Arizona. Then in January 2017, the government issued its first file on election interference and blamed Russia for the hacks. however, DHS did no longer tell pinnacle nation officials that their systems were scanned by means of hackers till almost a 12 months after the election How Russian Hackers Compromised the 2016 U.S. Presidential Ele.

In July of 2018, Mueller indicted 12 Russian nationals for their part in allegedly hacking into U.S.

election systems. The prosecutors provided up more details, which includes pronouncing that hackers stole data on 500,000 citizens from an unnamed state’s internet site, including names, addresses, partial Social protection numbers, dates of start and motive force’s license numbers. Russians then visited the websites of counties in Georgia, Iowa and Florida, in step with the indictment. The hackers also penetrated a voter registration software dealer, in step with the indictment, and posed because the corporation sending malicious emails to numerous Florida election directors How Russian Hackers Compromised the 2016 U.S. Presidential Ele.

similarly to all this, the Senate Intelligence Committee’s document said that during a small wide variety of states, Russians “had been capable of gain get right of entry to to restrained elements of election infrastructure” and “had been in a function to, at a minimal, regulate or delete voter registration records.”

Hacking the Clinton campaign

Former Democratic candidate for President of america Hillary Clinton speaks to newshounds to touch upon the FBI investigation concerning Clinton’s personal emails, Oct. 28, 2016. (Melina Mara—The Washington submit/Getty photos)
Former Democratic candidate for President of the united states Hillary Clinton speaks to journalists to touch upon the FBI investigation regarding Clinton’s personal emails, Oct. 28, 2016. Melina Mara—The Washington post/Getty pictures
one of the maximum placing elements of Russia’s plan to influence the U.S. election did now not contain votes at all, however as a substitute sellers with Russian navy intelligence, known as GRU, hacking into the emails of body of workers running for Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign. these efforts, as laid out with the aid of Mueller inside the key July 2018 indictment, started in earnest in March of 2016 How Russian Hackers Compromised the 2016 U.S. Presidential Ele.

for the duration of that month, the retailers despatched emails that looked like Google protection notifications to many Clinton campaign staffers and volunteers. but in preference to helping them lock down their accounts, those emails advised recipients to click a hyperlink to exchange their password, and whilst the consumer did so, this gave the Russian dealers get entry to to their bills. using this method, the GRU dealers stole tens of thousands of emails from Clinton campaign staffers, consisting of marketing campaign chairman John Podesta.

The GRU sellers then created a fake on-line institution called Guccifer 2.zero and used that persona to share those emails with WikiLeaks. That organization in flip released the stolen emails inside the run as much as the November election, developing frequent terrible news cycles for Clinton and distracting from the message she hoped to ship voters inside the final days of the marketing campaign How Russian Hackers Compromised the 2016 U.S. Presidential Ele.

Hacking the Democratic Congressional campaign Committee
The hacking did now not stop with Clinton’s group. GRU officers extensively utilized malicious emails to benefit get right of entry to to the Democratic Congressional campaign Committee pc community, according to the special recommend indictment. as soon as internal, the hackers installed malware that allowed them to get right of entry to more computers and scouse borrow hundreds of emails and files related to the election. In April of 2016, for example, the indictment stated the hackers searched a DCCC laptop for phrases such as “hillary,” “cruz” and “trump,” and copied a folder titled “Benghazi Investigations How Russian Hackers Compromised the 2016 U.S. Presidential Ele.”

Hacking the Democratic country wide Committee

This get right of entry to to the DCCC then allowed the hackers to penetrate the Democratic countrywide Committee community. In early June of 2016, the Russian officials launched DCLeaks.com and published lots of stolen files and emails there. Days later, the DNC introduced it had been hacked, prompting the Russians to create the Guccifer 2.0 personality to shift interest faraway from them and cover who had completed the hacking.

The Russian dealers, posing as Guccifer 2.0, quickly shared stolen files with WikiLeaks, which promised it would make certain the material “may have a far higher impact than what you’re doing,” according to Mueller’s indictment. On July 22, just days earlier than the Democratic country wide conference, WikiLeaks launched more than 20,000 stolen emails How Russian Hackers Compromised the 2016 U.S. Presidential Ele.

This unload piqued the hobby of the Trump campaign. consistent with an indictment in opposition to longtime Trump confidant Roger Stone, a “senior Trump marketing campaign legit changed into directed to touch Stone about any additional releases and what different destructive records” WikiLeaks had approximately Clinton’s marketing campaign. Stone had been bragging about connections to WikiLeaks, and because the election approached, prosecutors say he persevered to update the Trump campaign about the group’s plans. In early October, Steve Bannon, then Trump’s campaign chairman, reached out to Stone to specific situation after WikiLeaks behind schedule liberating emails. but Stone reassured him and while WikiLeaks released Podesta’s emails on Oct. 7, 2016, just after the Washington submit published audio from “get entry to Hollywood” of Trump bragging about assaulting girls, Bannon sent Stone a message: “nicely executed. How Russian Hackers Compromised the 2016 U.S. Presidential Ele”

it is able to be difficult to show what Trump and his marketing campaign group of workers knew approximately all this, says Timothy Naftali, a big apple university professor and co-creator of Impeachment: An American history How Russian Hackers Compromised the 2016 U.S. Presidential Ele.

How Russian Hackers Compromised the 2016 U.S. Presidential Ele
How Russian Hackers Compromised the 2016 U.S. Presidential Ele 2023

“From the president’s actions, his words and Mueller’s indictments, i think that Mueller observed evidence of suspicious contact. We know from the Roger Stone indictment that there has been contact with WikiLeaks,” Naftali introduced. “but touch with WikiLeaks isn’t necessarily evidence of willful collusion with a foreign authorities How Russian Hackers Compromised the 2016 U.S. Presidential Ele.”



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