More links emerge between alleged DNC hacker Guccifer 2.0 and Russian intelligence

23 Mar 2018

View from the main building of Lomonosov Moscow State University. Image: Mikhail Varentsov/Shutterstock

Guccifer 2.0 has allegedly been unmasked as a Russian operative.

In July of 2016, the political world was shaken by the extensive breach of Democratic National Committee (DNC) networks.

A trove of emails revealed that DNC members actively favoured Hillary Clinton over rival candidate Bernie Sanders, and undermined the latter’s campaign.

At the time, the name ‘Guccifer 2.0’ began to circulate, with the ‘lone hacker’ apparently responsible for providing WikiLeaks with the dossier of stolen emails incriminating DNC officials.

Security researchers at the time were suspicious that Russia may have been behind the attacks as part of its alleged efforts to insert current US president Donald Trump into the White House.

The Daily Beast recently learned that Guccifer 2.0 was in fact an officer of the GRU, Russia’s military intelligence directorate.

The determination could likely have consequences for the investigation into potential collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia. In January of 2017, various US agencies, including the NSA and FBI, said they were confident that Russian intelligence was behind the DNC data leaks.

Is the mask slipping?

Guccifer 2.0 projected an image of a lone-wolf hacker, purporting to be from Romania, but many were suspicious of the story’s veracity. Numerous incidents, including an interview with Motherboard, poked several holes in this particular narrative.

While the suspicions around Russian involvement were well documented, this recent development provides the most concrete level of evidence to date.

IP slip-up

An anonymous source close to the US government told The Daily Beast that Guccifer 2.0 failed to log into the VPN that had been disguising their traffic, which meant one truthful IP address was found. This IP address pegged Guccifer 2.0 as “a particular GRU officer working out of the agency’s headquarters on Grizodubovoy Street in Moscow”.

Roger Stone, a close political adviser to Trump, admitted he had been in touch with the hacker via direct message on Twitter and later wrote an article for right-wing website Breitbart, saying he believed Guccifer 2.0 had no ties to the Kremlin.

Robert Mueller has taken over the investigation into Guccifer 2.0 and, while it is not yet apparent what his plans are, the previous slew of indictments charged 13 Russians tied to the Internet Research Agency with conspiracy for the purpose of interfering with US political processes.

Guccifer 2.0’s name is an homage to Romanian hacker Marcel Lazăr Lehel, who entered the public eye in 2013 after several hacks against well-known figures.

Ellen Tannam was a journalist with Silicon Republic, covering all manner of business and tech subjects