(NEW YORK) — U.S. officials say they are investigating a series of cyberattacks against The New York Times’ Moscow bureau in what authorities suspect is a continuing onslaught of sneak attacks by Russia.
None of the Times’ internal systems were compromised, the paper said.
“We are constantly monitoring our systems with the latest available intelligence and tools,” a Times spokesman said. “We have seen no evidence that any of our internal systems, including our systems in the Moscow bureau, have been breached or compromised.”
Richard Clarke, an ABC News consultant and former counterterrorism adviser to the White House, said, “Russian intelligence wants to know what the New York Times is going to write before it writes it.”
“They hack into political parties, into government agencies, into newspapers, to find out what they know about Russia, to find out what they’re thinking about Russia, and to find out who their sources are in Russia,” he said.
Officials told ABC News that the attacks came from the same Russian hackers who compromised the computers at the Democratic National Committee, and leaked over 19,000 emails among DNC party officials. The hacked emails showed how supposedly neutral party officials tried to undercut the campaign of Sen. Bernie Sanders, and revealed sensitive emails and voicemail messages about big Democratic donors and the favors they sought.
“There is little doubt in the case of the DNC that it was Russian intelligence related,” said Justin Harvey, the chief security officer for Fidelis Cybersecurity. “The telltale signs for the DNC were the IP addresses that were used were previously attributed to Russian attacks.”
The Russian hackers have a long list of successful operations, in both the United States and the international community. In 2015, the German domestic intelligence agency accused Russia of hacking Germany’s parliament.
A few years prior in 2007, Russian hackers were suspected of launching a sustained cyberattack against Estonian organizations, including its Parliament, banks and newspapers after a Soviet war memorial was removed from Estonia’s capital.
That was followed in 2008 with a serious attack on classified systems at the Pentagon and, more recently in the United States, Russian hackers have been suspected of hacking nonclassified systems at the White House.
And in addition to the DNC this summer, Russian hackers also successfully compromised a private communication network for the Open Society Foundation run by billionaire American investor George Soros – internal documents that were subsequently uploaded onto DC Leaks.
Laura Silber, director of public affairs at the Open Society Foundation, confirmed that the emails posted on DC Leaks appeared to be stolen from their organization.
“The hack on our organization may not have been as intrusive as what happened at the DNC, but taken together, these recent events appear to be a part of a larger effort to attack our open society and shouldn’t be taken lightly,” Silber said.
In a forum about what role cybertools should play in the United States at the Aspen Security Forum in July, John Carlin, the U.S. Assistant Attorney General for National Security, issued a warning that a symbolic criminal prosecution of Russia could soon be forthcoming.
“You haven’t seen a public action against Russia,” he said. “But it would be a mistake for them to assume that we are not going to apply this deterrence model when it comes to their action if they continue to intrude.”
The FBI had no comment to ABC News regarding the investigation.
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