Online hacktivists have thrown the Democratic elite into complete chaos after a pair of websites, Guccifer 2.0 and DC Leaks, posted a series of leaks this weekend exposing the personal data of federal lawmakers and the internal records of party donor and influencer George Soros.
Purporting to "shed light on one of the most influential networks operating worldwide," DCLeaks on Saturday published more than 2,500 documents, which included "workplans, strategies, priorities, and other activities" related to George Soros's Open Society Foundation.
Less than 24 hours before that leak, the infamous Democratic National Committee (DNC) hacker Guccifer 2.0 late Friday published a spreadsheet containing the personal cellphone numbers and email addresses of nearly 200 current and former members of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC) and their staff.
The document was taken down hours later by publishing platform WordPress—although that was not soon enough to stymie the flood of "vulgar, malicious emails and texts," as Politico put it, that were sent to staffers and lawmakers.
Beyond the tide of threats and spam, the leak now exposes the government to potentially more dangerous breaches. As the Wall Street Journal reported:
By having access to cellphone numbers and email addresses, spies and hackers could attempt to intercept communication to and from these lawmakers, particularly those on sensitive committees that oversee things like intelligence and the military.
And in making the information public, the hackers sowed fear among a number of Democrats that they were being watched. The lawmakers hadn’t been warned that their information had been stolen before its publication late Friday.
In a Twitter direct message exchange, Guccifer 2.0 told the Journal that "I'm acting alone" and "I have a full archive of docs and emails from the dccc server." Also, the hacker said it is turning over even more records to WikiLeaks to be published later.
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Researchers with the cybersecurity firm Threat Connect, which had previously linked Guccifer 2.0 with Russia-based Elite VPN (or Virtual Private Network) service, wrote Friday that they believe DCLeaks is "another Russian-backed influence outlet."
Threat Connect cites evidence that DCLeaks and Guccifer 2.0 have shared hacked documents and says the second sites "registration and hosting information aligns with other FANCY BEAR activities and known tactics, techniques, and procedures," referring by code name to one of the DNC infiltrators.
This comes amid growing media and political speculation that Russian politicians are trying to influence the 2016 U.S. presidential election. DCLeaks has denied any connection to Guccifer 2.0 and claims to be "American hacktivists."
In a lengthy investigation on the new outfit, The Smoking Gun (TSG) reported that DCLeaks also "houses a hodgepodge of stolen e-mails offering fresh evidence of the scope and targets of the recent political hacking campaign."
A "portfolio" titled "The United States Republican Party" contains about 300 e-mails that were sent during a five-month period ending in late-October 2015.
A review of that correspondence shows that a wide variety of GOP e-mail accounts have been breached. The victims range from staffers for Senator John McCain’s campaign committee to a candidate running for State Senate in Virginia. Officials with four state Republican party organizations--Wyoming, Connecticut, Rhode Island, Illinois--had correspondence stolen. E-mails to the campaign committees of Senator Lindsey Graham, Rep. Robert Hurt, and former Rep. Michele Bachmann were also swiped. E-mails from Campaign Solutions, a leading Republican consulting firm, and the Stop Hillary PAC were pilfered.
None of the victims contacted by TSG--including the McCain campaign and the Connecticut GOP, were aware of the e-mail hacking.
The one connective thread, TSG noted, is that "the victimized campaigns, state parties, PACs, and businesses all contracted with the same Tennessee web hosting outfit."