People who build bombs leave a signature behind, which is basically their own style of handiwork. Some hackers like to leave their signature behind, too, much like artists sign their work. Konstantin Kozlovsky is one such hacker. He is in a Russian jail now, but this hacker has a very interesting story to tell.
The independent Russian television channel, RAIN aired an interview with Kozlovsky on Wednesday, where he said the Kremlin ordered him to hack into the Democratic National Committee (DNC) computers, the McClatchy D.C. Bureau reported. He worked with the Russian intelligence, formerly the KGB and now the FSB. He said the FSB ordered him to steal the emails, and then the intelligence agency arranged their release during the latter months of the 2016 presidential campaign.
The FSB told Kozlovsky to develop computer viruses. These were alpha-tested on large Russian companies. Then, the Kremlin infected multinational corporations with viruses.
Kozlovsky confessed to the hacking last August, while he was in a Russian courtroom. Yet, the information about the hacker did not reach U.S. news until December. The reason he is in jail is that he was allegedly a member of a hacking group that walked away with over $50 million from accounts in Russian banks. He apparently accomplished this using the Lurk computer virus.
The hacker posted a transcript and audio recording of his pretrial court hearing confession on his Facebook page in December. During that hearing, Kozlovsky also confessed to hacking into the people investigating the Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 crash. The plane was shot down by a missile in July 2014, while it was traveling a familiar route near the Ukrainian-Russian border.
Chief information security officer for Cyxtera Technologies and former cyber operations head in the FBI’s New York office, Leo Taddeo told McClatchey:
‘Based on my experience and understanding of professional intelligence operations, the blending of criminal activity with sanctioned intelligence operations is an old page out of the Russian intelligence-services playbook. What the defendant (in Russia) is describing would not be inconsistent with past Russian intelligence operations.’
The hacker responded with written answers to the RAIN TV from jail. He said he was worried that his bosses might give him a “poison pill” at the time he was hacking the DNC. That was why he embedded a string of numbers representing his combined Russian passport number and visa number during a visit to St. Martin in a secret file.
After the DNC was originally hacked, it did not contact the FBI. Instead, the committee brought in a private tech firm, CrowdStrike. The owner is a man who used to lead an FBI cyber section.
The reason Kozlovsky’s confession is so important is it may provide proof that the FSB did direct the DNC hacking, and that links the crime back to Russian President Vladimir Putin. The hacker said that Major Gen. Dmitry Dokuchaev gave him the order to hack the DNC. A San Francisco federal court issued an arrest warrant for Dokuchaev in February for allegedly hacking Yahoo accounts.
Featured Image via Getty Images/Handout.
H/T: McClatchey D.C. Bureau.