Russians Hacked Company Key to Ukraine Scandal

Russians Hacked Company Key to Ukraine Scandal

Area 1, a security firm that specializes in defense against phishing, says in its report (PDF) that it has discovered a network of fake websites used by the G.R.U., a Russian military intelligence unit, built to target subsidiaries of Burisma.

Democratic presidential contender Joe Biden's son Hunter Biden was previously on the board of the firm.

The New York Times, which first wrote about the anti-phishing company's report, said the attack "appears to have been aimed at digging up e-mail correspondence" of Studio Kvartal 95, which then was headed by Ivan Bakanov, whom Zelenskiy appointed as head of Ukraine's Security Service in June. But shortly after the House of Representatives formalized its impeachment inquiry on October 31, hackers linked to Russia's government sprang into action in early November.

Oren Falkowitz, the company's co-founder and CEO, told CNN in an interview that Area 1 has been tracking the GRU for some time.

"The timing of the GRU's campaign in relation to the 2020 USA elections raises the spectre that this is an early warning of what we have anticipated since the successful cyberattacks undertaken during the 2016 USA elections", said the report. Hunter Biden stopped working with the company in 2019. In the Burisma case, hackers sent emails to company employees instructing them to log in on fake websites created to look pages for the company's subsidiaries.

The hiring of Hunter Biden by the gas company has prompted criticism, including from defenders of Trump.

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During a July 25 phone call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, Trump asked him to investigate the Bidens and Burisma, a request that ultimately triggered the events that led to his impeachment.

U.S. Rep. Adam Schiff, D-California, who chairs the House Intelligence Committee and has been a key figure in Trump's impeachment, said the alleged hacking shows that Russian Federation was still interested in interfering with U.S. elections.

Stolen emails were released online at the time by Russian agents and WikiLeaks in an effort to favor Trump, special counsel Robert Mueller determined in his investigation. According to the New York Times, purported hacking attempts were alleged to have been registered in November 2019, at the time when major US-based media outlets were consistently reporting about the Bidens, Ukraine and the Trump impeachment.

Speaker Nancy Pelosi - after announcing tomorrow's vote to send articles of impeachment to the Senate - ripped President Donald Trump and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell for not doing enough on election security.

"The timing of the GRU's campaign in relation to the 2020 USA elections raises the spectre that this is an early warning of what we have anticipated since the successful cyberattacks undertaken during the 2016 USA elections", the Area 1 Security report said.

The attack was detected by Silicon Valley security company Area 1. "Any American president who had not repeatedly encouraged foreign interventions of this kind would immediately condemn this attack on the sovereignty of our elections", Biden spokesman Andrew Bates said. Trump is seeking reelection and Biden is a potential opponent out of a dozen Democrats seeking their party's nomination.

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