Quite often we get somewhat bogged down here in the U.S. and tend to be somewhat centered on ourselves.  “America First” isn’t just Trump’s favorite jingoistic slogan, it also happens to be the way many Americans look at the world including those in the news media.

Very few have reported for example the Russian cyber criminals not only attacked Americans during the 2016 election they also attacked Britain during the Brexit Vote.

LONDON — New investigations released this week suggest the Russians meddled in Britain’s historic referendum last year to leave the European Union, placing an already weakened Prime Minister Theresa May in a most awkward position — just when she needs to be her strongest in Brexit negotiations.

The evidence that the Russians, with possible support from the Kremlin, bombarded British targets with social media tweets and posts was splashed on the nightly news and front pages in Britain.

Even so, the prime minister and her office stressed that Russian propaganda had “no direct successful influence” on the Brexit vote.

And they attacked both France their recent Presidential elections…. 

The hackers behind a “massive and coordinated” attack on the campaign of France’s president-elect, Emmanuel Macron, have been linked by a number of cybersecurity research firms to the Russian-affiliated group blamed for attacking the Democratic party shortly before the US election.

Tens of thousands of internal emails and other documents were released online overnight on Friday as the midnight deadline to halt campaigning in the French election passed. According to the head of Macron’s digital team, Mounir Mahjoubi, “five entire mailboxes” were “stolen”, with many of the accounts being personal Gmail mailboxes.

And also Germany.

In March and April hackers tried to infiltrate computers of think tanks associated with Germany’s top two political parties. A year earlier, scammers set up a fake server in Latvia to flood German lawmakers with phishing emails. And in 2015 criminals breached the network of the German Parliament, stealing 16 gigabytes of data. Although there’s no definitive proof, the attacks have been linked to Pawn Storm, a shadowy group with ties to Russian intelligence agencies—raising the possibility that the Kremlin might disrupt a September vote in which Chancellor Angela Merkel, Russian President Vladimir Putin’s strongest critic in Europe, is seeking a fourth term. “There’s increasing evidence of attempts to influence the election” by Russia, says Hans-Georg Maassen, head of the BfV, Germany’s domestic intelligence agency. “We expect another jump in cyberattacks ahead of the vote.”

So despite Trump’s claims that “Russia is a hoax” , his repeating the 2017 Lie of the year that it was “made up by the Democrats as an excuse for losing” and some members of Congress declaring the “FBI and DOJ are corrupt” and Fox News saying the Mueller investigation is an “attempted coup” – it seems that if you look past America’s own shores, this issue is far from a hoax to many of our allies overseas.

There have been many interesting public revelations domestically in the Mueller investigation lately from the the fact that the Trump campaign was specifically warned during their security briefings that foreign elements may attempt to contact and gain influence over them while in fact George Papadopoulos, Michael Flynn, Carter Pager, Paul Manafort, Don Jr., Jared Kushner, Jeff Sessions, Rick Dearborn and Roger Stone had all already made multiple contacts with as many as 19 different Russian operatives —  Papadopoulos had been specifically told by one Russian contact that they had “thousands of Hillary’s emails” on April 16th two months before the WaPo first reported the DNC hack and Guccifer 2.0 began releasing materials — and none of them reported it to the FBI as requested and required.  Then several of them lied about all this to the FBI and even under oath before Congress.

The fact is that despite all that the FBI, even outside of Mueller’s probe, have been doing their job and they’ve been getting their man. Or rather men. This was posted on the DOJ website in November.

Canadian Citizen Karim Baratov pleaded guilty to hacking for the FSB
Hacker Karim Baratov pleaded guilty in US Courts to hacking for the FSB

Karim Baratov, aka Kay, aka Karim Taloverov, aka Karim Akehmet Tokbergenov, 22, a Canadian national and resident, pleaded guilty today, to charges returned by a grand jury in the Northern District of California in February 2017.  Baratov and three other defendants, including two officers of the Russian Federal Security Service (FSB), Russia’s domestic law enforcement and intelligence service, were charged with computer hacking and other criminal offenses in connection with a conspiracy to access Yahoo’s network and the contents of webmail accounts that began in January 2014.  Baratov’s co-defendants, all of whom remain at large in Russia, are Dmitry Aleksandrovich Dokuchaev, 33, a Russian national and resident; Igor Anatolyevich Sushchin, 43, a Russian national and resident; and Alexsey Alexseyevich Belan, aka Magg, 29, a Russian national and resident.  

The guilty plea was announced by Acting Assistant Attorney General Dana J. Boente of the National Security Division, U.S. Attorney Brian J. Stretch for the Northern District of California and Executive Assistant Director Paul Abbate of the FBI’s Criminal, Cyber, Response and Services Branch.

There are several interesting names mentioned in this release, the first of which is Assistant AG Dana Boente who according to various reports was the person in charge of the Russia investigation before Special Counsel Mueller was assigned, and frankly if Mueller were removed Boente would in all likelyhood continue doing exactly what he was doing before.

The other two interesting names are the FSB Officers Dmitry Dokuchaev and Igor Sushchin because they were both also mentioned by Russian Independent Newspaper RBC [Translated via Google]

The US Department of Justice believes that Baratov worked on the orders of FSB officers Dmitry Dokuchaev and his boss Igor Sushchina. Fourth involved in the attack on Yahoo! American law enforcers consider the hacker Alexei Belan, who is among the ten most wanted cybercriminals in the US.

Dokuchaev was also brought up in another hacker case with a guilty plea and a confession, only this one happened in Russia and involved a direct attack against the DNC.  As reported by The Bell [Translated from Russian by Google].

As it became known to The Bell, Konstantin Kozlovsky, a hacker from Yekaterinburg, one of the main defendants in the Lurk case , stated about his involvement in the crackdown of the committee of the Democratic Party of the United States .

Now Kozlovsky is in custody in SIZO “Matrosskaya Tishina”. On August 15, the court considered the extension of the measure of restraint. At this meeting, Kozlovsky said that he “performed various tasks under the supervision of FSB officers, in particular,” hacking “of the National Committee of the Democratic Party of the USA and electronic correspondence of Hillary Clinton, and also” hacking “very serious military enterprises of the United States and other organizations.”

Judging by the documents published on Kozlovsky’s page, he first announced his work for the FSB in a letter of November 1, 2016. In it, he mentions and attacks on the servers of the Democratic Party committee. Kozlovsky writes that he was engaged in them on behalf of an FSB officer, whom he calls “Ilya.” Later the hacker began to assert that under the pseudonym “Ilya” he was overseen by FSB major Dmitry Dokuchaev.

Now Dokuchaev is also in jail and is a suspect in the case of the state treason. Details of this investigation are classified. But, according to the sources of The Bell, Dokuchaev and three other persons involved in the case on state treason, cooperated with the US intelligence services, and passed on to them information, including about the organizers of last year’s attacks on the committee of the Democratic Party. With these attacks, a scandal began about Russian interference in the US elections (for more details about this story you can read in our investigation , which was published last week).

As The Bell mentions Dokuchaev is himself a former hacker who had been apprehended by the FSB in his 20s, they then put him to work for them where he ultimately rose to the position of deputy chief of their internet and cyber divisions.  It’s also true as The Bell mentions that Dokuchaev, his direct superior at FSB Sergei Mikhailov and another Russian employed by Kaspersky Labs Ruslan Stoyanov was arrested last December in Russia on suspicion of giving information on the attack on the U.S. to the CIA. [Via Google Translate]

Colonel of the FSB  Sergey Mikhailov  was arrested  exactly one year ago – December 5, 2016. Employees of the FSB Investigation Department detained Mikhailov in his own office and withdrew from there with a bag on his head. He has a black belt in karate, and his colleagues feared that he would resist, explains one of the Colonel’s acquaintances.

Sergey Mikhailov and Russian Stoyanov

Prior to the arrest, Mikhailov was the head of the 2nd Directorate of the Information Security Center (FSB) of the FSB and was considered one of the key experts in cybercrime in the Russian special services. Now he is accused of state treason.

Together with Mikhailov this year in Lefortovo prison, in nine-meter cells without hot water, three of his acquaintances and defendants of the same case conducted. With two of them, Mikhailov was familiar for at least ten years, and worked with the third one: he was a former employee of Kaspersky Lab  Ruslan Stoyanov , a little-known Internet entrepreneur Georgy Fomchenkov and FSB major  Dmitry Dokuchaev .

Of these three Stoyanov is the most interesting as he didn’t work for FSB, but he has for years worked with them specifically at locating and catching criminal hackers who suddenly and mysteriously  turned into FSB assets just as Baratov and Kozlovsky have both alleged in their confessions.

Via Russian Paper RBC [translated from Russian]

The group of hackers, who were detained on Wednesday, June 1, reported by the FSB and the Interior Ministry, for five years, abducted money with the help of the banking virus Trojan Lurk from users’ accounts in Russia and CIS countries, the Kaspersky Lab said in a statement. From cybercriminals, banking organizations and their clients suffered, as well as big business, Ruslan Stoyanov, head of the investigation department of computer incidents, told RBC.

In total, for the entire period of activity, a group of 50 hackers could have stolen more than 3 billion rubles., RBC representative of Kaspersky Lab Julia Krivosheina reported, citing data from the Ministry of Internal Affairs. According to Kaspersky Lab, hackers have been stealing money for the past five years. At the same time, the data about the damage caused by the hackers vary. According to the Ministry of Internal Affairs, the damage from 18 targeted attacks on computers of organizations exceeded 3 billion rubles. from mid-2015 to the present. Also, the police was able to prevent possible damage amounting to 2.2 billion rubles. According to the FSB, with the help of a virus program hackers stole 1.7 billion rubles.

Just a reminder one of the 50 hackers apprehended for stealing from banks using the Lurk Trojan — was Kozlovsky.

As it became known to The Bell, Konstantin Kozlovsky, a hacker from Yekaterinburg, one of the main defendants in the Lurk case , stated about his involvement in the crackdown of the committee of the Democratic Party of the United States .

So we appear to have a pattern in place where hackers identified by FSB using the help of Kaspersky are offered a position to work for the FSB — as Dokuchaev, Baratov and Kozlovsky did — or else go to prison.

Only now the Russian government has decided that Dokuchaev and Stoyanov have betrayed them by sharing information with the CIA — except that their supposed contact with the agency denies any of that happened. [Via RBC Translated]

Employees of the Center for Information Security (FSB) of the FSB, accused of state treason, could transmit classified information to the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) of the United States through Kimberly Zenz, former senior analyst for cyberthreats of the American company iDefence, the “daughter” of IT company Verisign. A source familiar with the course of the investigation told RBC about this.

Kimberly Zenz in a conversation with RBC reported that she was approached by Alexander Gusak, the lawyer of one of the detainees – Ruslan Stoyanov. “He was interested in the details of my life, our communication with Stoyanov and asked if I paid him or someone else for information from the Russian government agencies,” Zenz said.

“I never did that. I do not work for the CIA, I never gave them information and was not a government agent of any state. I also stated my readiness to testify to Russian law enforcement agencies, and they know how to contact me, but did not do it, “Zenz noted. Ruslan Stoyanov’s lawyer Alexander Gusak confirmed to RBC that Kimberly Zenz gave him written evidence and was transferred to the investigation.

Not that having a lack of a credible witness supporting the theory of prosecution can keep Russia from holding these men for years anyway, the short term result is that their been in custody in Russia keeps them from being apprehended and questioned about Putin’s direct involvement in these plots by the FBI who — as noted on their website — consider these men criminals, not informants or sources.  At least not yet.

In addition to these hackers others have been identified and apprehended overseas and the pattern continues. [Via Fox News. Yes, really]

Five Russians accused of being hackers have been arrested in a series of American-led raids over the last nine months – all of them grabbed while on vacation across Europe.

Russian computer programmer Stanislav Lisov attends a court hearing at the Spanish National Court in Madrid, on extradition request to the U.S. for alleged crimes related to the ‘NeverQuest’ malicious software, which syphoned 855,000 U.S. dollars (743,000 euros) from bank clients in the country.  (AP)

According to Axios, the arrests also come as Russian security services struck a deal with the country’s cybercriminals that allow them to work as long as they also conduct state-ordered missions.

The five men have been identified as: Pyotr Levashov, 36; Evgeny Nikulin, 29; Alexander Vinnik, 38; Stanislav Lisov, 31; and Yury Martyshev, 35. They were all grabbed outside of their homeland, which has no extradition agreement with the United States.

Just like Baratov who was apprehended in Canada before being extradited to the U.S. these hackers were captured and could soon be brought back here to stand trial or else be offered a deal to reveal exactly who they worked for and what they did.

However to sum up, the attacks on America didn’t simply involve hacking and stealing information it also involve selective and deceptive decimation of that information not just through Wikileaks but also Russia State operative Media services such as RT and Sputnik News both of whom have been required by the U.S. Government to register as foreign agents.

U.S. employees of Sputnik News have even admitted that they essentially took their direction, even the list of questions they would ask the White House, from the Kremlin.

“Many of the most popular articles about things like Wikileaks and Pizzagate and other conspiracy theories were prominently featured on the Sputnik website,” [Andrew] Feinberg told Melber.

Those stories were then picked up by right-wing outlets like Infowars, Breitbart and the Gateway Pundit, he continued.

Sputnik functions as part of this right-wing media ecosystem,” Feinberg said. “There’s a big difference between these sites run by Americans [that] employ Americans exercising their right to freedom of speech and a news site funded by a foreign government with the express purpose of not reporting the news but influencing opinion.”

“When the money for that site comes from a foreign government, it’s foreign propaganda,” he concluded. “Not news.”

In August, Feinberg revealed that Sputnik encouraged him to push the debunked right-wing conspiracy theory that the DNC had former staffer Seth Rich murdered — an assignment that led to him quitting.

Yesterday, news broke that Sputnik is under investigation by the FBI and that the DOJ ordered reporters from RT, another Kremlin-backed news organization, to file as foreign agents. Earlier in his interview with Melber, Feinberg said that he too had been interviewed by the FBI, and had mostly been questioned about internal processes and where he got his assignments (and money) from.

So although we may hear a great deal of complaints on Capitol Hill over Mueller’s investigation — the rest of the FBI under Dana Boente has been hard at work arresting and flipping hackers who attempted to infiltrate not just the DNC but our voting systems, investigating RT and Sputnik and also taking aim at the Russian Troll Farm which operated the bots and fake accounts which cause the stories fed by the Kremlin via RT and Sputnik directly into the bloodstream of Right-Wing media just as Feinberg describes.

On the outskirts of St. Petersburg, Russia, inside an unassuming office building, people who claim to have worked there say Internet trolls are hard at work, exploiting America’s deepest divisions.

Lyudmila Savchuk, a journalist, told Harris that she’d gone undercover to work in the troll factory for about $700 a month. She said that as part of her job, she’d invent fictional characters and then post under their names with topics carefully selected by her bosses.

“Their favorite topics were guns, immigrants and homosexuality,” Savchuk said. “The kind of topics that could invoke blind and negative emotions.”

An independent, liberal Russian TV channel also spoke to a man named Alan Beskaev who said he’d worked in the unit that specifically targeted America.

One minute, he said, “you needed to be a redneck from Kentucky and then later you had to be some kind of white dude from Minnesota. … And then in 15 minutes, you need to be from New York, writing something in black slang.”

Beskaev said some of his colleagues even traveled to the U.S. to do research.

Another former troll said in an interview published on Oct. 16 that he worked in a so-called “troll factory” in St. Petersburg for around 18 months until early 2015. He said that during his time there, trolls were instructed to watch the Netflix series “House of Cards” to improve their English and strengthen their knowledge of U.S. politics.

They had even put together a phony sex-tape using a Hillary Clinton look alike and a black man — who was supposed to be Barack Obama — according to Beskeav.

Mr Baskaev, now a teacher in Thailand, appeared in an on-camera interview with independent Russian television station TV Rain.

A former employee of a Russian “troll factory” has said that a Hillary Clinton lookalike and black man were hired by his company to make a sex tape during the 2016 US election.

The company, according to the first former employee to go on record Alan Baskaev, ran popular Twitter accounts that would promote then-candidate Donald Trump’s campaign officials and surrogates.

The Internet Research Agency also ran websites in favour of Mr Trump during the election, the Daily Beast reported.

He worked at the company from November 2014 to April 2015 and said he would impersonate “Kentucky rednecks” and African-Americans online on a regular basis.

During the above interview Baskeav mentions a familiar name — Mr. Stoyanov from Kaspersky Labs — who was part of the FSB operation and apparently visited the St. Petersburg troll farm.  That potentially ties all elements of this case together as being all part of a coordinated effort. 

Trump and GOPs claim either that this didn’t happen despite all the evidence to the contrary or that it didn’t matter in the final vote tally.  But here’s the thing: we don’t forgive attempted bank robbery or murder if you don’t get away with the money or the victim survives anyway — nor should we ignore political espionage and attempted political sabotage implemented by cyber fraud.  It’s all still criminal and any American who aided, abetted, helped pay for or deliberately benefited from and rewarded these crimes need to be taken down as well.

This is an all hands on deck operation for the FBI. Trump is not about to shut it all down. Not hardly.

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This is a Creative Commons article. The original version of this article appeared here.


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