GUCCIFER 2.0, the hacker behind who allegedly compromised the Democratic National Committee (DNC), has been revealed as a member of Russian military intelligence.
The DNC materials that were sent to Wikileaks and other organisations exposed details about Hilary Clinton's presidential campaign and information about how the DNC operated internally; it could be seen as a game changer for President Donald Trump ahead of the election.
A new report by The Daily Beast suggests that Guccifer, who had been perceived as an independent hacker from Romania, would have always been seen that way if it wasn't for a slip-up with a VPN.
The hacker apparently didn't switch on his VPN client before logging on, on a single occasion, and as a result "he left a real, Moscow-based Internet Protocol address in the server logs of an American social media company, according to a source familiar with the government's Guccifer investigation".
This IP address was then used by US investigators to connect Guccifer to the Russian foreign military intelligence agency known as GRU, but The Daily Beast's sources did not confirm who the officer was.
The US government has not yet confirmed that this is true, although last year US intelligence officers had linked Guccifer 2.0 to the agency with "high confidence".
Kyle Ehmke, an intelligence researcher at cybersecurity company ThreatConnect was tasked with leading an investigation into Guccifer's identity. He told The Daily Beast that his team tried to track the hacker through email metadata, and this led them to a French data centre.
"Almost immediately various cybersecurity companies and individuals were sceptical of Guccifer 2.0 and the backstory that he had generated for himself," Ehmke said.
"We started seeing these inconsistencies that led back to the idea that he was created hastily … by the individual or individuals that affected the DNC compromise," he added.
Ehmke eventually found that Guccifer was connecting through an anonymizing service called Elite VPN, which had an exit point in France but was headquartered in Russia. They then tied the IP address, which he mistakenly left in social media logs, to the GRU's agency headquarters in Moscow.
The findings provide further evidence that Russia attempted to interfere in the US election and raises questions about Trump's connections to Russia.
It could also play a big part in special counsel Robert Mueller's investigation into Guccifer 2.0. µ
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