The hacker going by the name Johnnie Walker cracked The U.S. State Department officer’s email and sent out the correspondence to a number of outside organizations, among which were leading Western media. According to the publication Foreign Policy, whose address also received hacked materials, they are talking about Russia: a victim of a hacker attack specialist regularly corresponded with other experts and think tanks related to the Russian issues. The State Department did not confirm or deny the fact of hacking.
The hacker under Johnnie Walker pseudonym, cracked a private e-mail and arranged a mass mailing of a correspondence of a high-ranking representative of the American special services. According to the Foreign Policy, which had these materials, it is a prominent expert of the Bureau of Intelligence and Research at the US State Department, which specializes in Russian subjects.
“Probably, this guy is the best specialist of special services in Russia in the whole US government. He knows more than anyone about what is happening there, “a source, which are familiar with the situation told FP.
The publication stressed that the victim of hacking was an active employee of the State Department, but did not begin to be named after the relevant request of the department, based on security considerations.
Probably, the hacked official of the US Department is Robert Otto. The newspaper Kommersant found out that information on the significant leakage of e-mails of the chief of the unit on Russian domestic policy of the department, dealing with Russia and Eurasia was posted for the first time on pastebin.com on July 10. Two days later, a similar entry appeared on the resources justpaste.it and mediapart.fr.
“Perhaps you know that the State Department has a direct impact on the formation of the agenda not only in the United States, but throughout the world. Now you can make sure that this is true, “the hacker wrote, laying out the documents for third-party resources.
He also added that, out of respect for private life, he removed all correspondence of the official with his wife and relatives.
“The remaining letters will show who is responsible for the various information campaigns, the so-called mythmaking and in fact is engaged in the propaganda of” American values “around the world,” sums up the hacker.
Fate of Russia
The hacked correspondence covers at least a two-year period, and the letters mostly contain interviews of the official with government experts in Russia, including experts from the intelligence community, as well as representatives of major media, non-governmental organizations and international foundations.
Foreign Policy states that a specialist who became a victim of a hacker attack regularly corresponded with other experts and analytical centers related to Russian issues.
At the same time, the State Department itself did not confirm or deny the authenticity of the widespread e-mails, as well as the very fact of the correspondence’s hacking.
“The State Department is well aware that hackers often attack e-mail accounts of government leaders and US business leaders. Our policy is that we are not talking about specific incidents,” the representative of the foreign ministry said.
The outlet notes that the hacking was carried out against the background of the ongoing investigation of “Russian cyber attacks” in the United States and allegedly Moscow’s interference in the US presidential election in 2016. Moreover, the targets of hackers were, in particular, specialists on Russia.
On professionals and amateurs
Experts interviewed by Foreign Policy, expected Russia to be the likely source of cyberattacks, recognizing that intelligence officers are often targeted by hackers.
“The Russians probably have the most aggressive intelligence services in the world. The fact that they have taken on officials of the State Department is fully consistent with their behavior,” said CIA veteran John Cypher.
At the same time, experts on cybersecurity urged not to rush to conclusions, since hacking a mail of a high-ranking official may be just an attempt by Johnnie Walker to earn a name in a hacking environment.
According to expert in the field of cyber security, Jeffrey Carr, there is nothing unusual in such hacker attacks, and hacking of personal mail does not require special sophistication. Therefore, an attacker or a group of people may simply be amateurs seeking respect or fame.
“Obviously, Russia would be interested in hacking an expert on Russia. As well as any guy who decided to make a name for himself,” said a specialist on cyber-ops John Nichols.
“A person should always assume that all his messages can be read, stolen, distributed and used. I do so,” said a former special assistant to the president under the administration of Barack Obama Celeste Wallander.
Not only America
On Friday, the official representative of the Russian Foreign Ministry, Maria Zakharova, reported on the cyber attack on the e-mail of the Russian Foreign Ministry, which was conducted in late June.
Through mass spam of fake emails from the previously compromised account of the Russian embassy in Iran, attackers were able to get an access to the e-mail of users who passed through a nested link and a number of MFA resources. The necessary measures were taken to eliminate the consequences of the hacker attack.
Meanwhile, the creation of the Russian-American group on combating cyber attacks, which was discussed at the G20 summit by Vladimir Putin and Donald Trump, is under threat. The Congress is trying to legislatively ban coordination projects with Russia in the field of cybersecurity. The American leader also announced the impossibility of forming such a group in the foreseeable future. The Russian side notes that it is not yet clear whether Moscow and Washington will succeed in reaching an agreement on this issue in the future.
“There really was a talk about the possibility of creating such a group. Whether it would be created or not only the time will show,” the press secretary of the Russian president Dmitry Peskov concluded.