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Guccifer 2.0, the online persona behind a high-profile hack of the Democratic National Committee, on Friday took credit for a separate breach of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee and published a massive amount of personal information belonging to hundreds of Democratic representatives to prove it.
One Excel spreadsheet contains a dizzying amount of personal information—including work and cell phone numbers, home addresses, official and personal e-mail addresses, and names of staffers—for the entire roster of Democratic representatives.
Several other documents contain passwords for various DCCC accounts. Other documents purport to be memos detailing fund raisers and campaign overviews.
“As you see the US presidential elections are becoming a farce, a big political performance where the voters are far from playing the leading role,” Guccifer 2.0 wrote in a blog post accompanying the document dump. “Everything is being settled behind the scenes as it was with Bernie Sanders.”The figure went on to say this latest leak is motivated by a belief “that people have right to know what’s going on inside the election process,” but at first glance, none of the leaked documents appeared to show any improprieties on the part of anyone.
Instead, they expose mostly routine material, albeit some candid and security-sloppy password choices.
For instance, one account for a subscription to conservative political commentator Glenn Beck’s website was protected with the password “nutbag,” while the password for many media sites was “dccc2016.”
In other words, the real aim of the leak appears to be the same as previous ones—to disrupt or possibly influence the US presidential election.
By calling it a “farce,” Guccifer 2.0 is feeding the belief held among some that the process is rigged and can’t be trusted to be fair.
And by exposing weak and politically charged passwords, the leaker is able to potentially discredit democrats with less than three months until the November 8 election. What’s more, the release of so much personal information belonging to Democratic representatives will undoubtedly force some of the party’s most influential members to change their phone numbers and e-mail addresses when they’re needed most.
Several security firms who have analyzed the software used in the DNC hack have said it bears the hallmark of two competing groups within the Russian government.
Guccifer 2.0 made his first public appearance to refute that claim and to say that he’s a Romanian who carried out the attack on his own.
Analysis of documents revealed in that initial dump showed they had Russian fingerprints on them, but they were never tied to any Russian government group, and the attempt to falsely implicate Russia by a non-Russian hacker can’t be ruled out, either.
Still, suspicions of Russia’s involvement only intensified following a later leak of e-mails that appeared to show DNC chair Debra Wasserman Schultz disparaging Democratic candidate Bernie Sanders. Wasserman Schultz quickly agreed to resign to quell critics.
Some analysts claimed the leak was designed to divide the Democratic vote and benefit Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump, who has voiced support for Russian President Vladimir Putin.
Some analysts who believe Russia’s government is involved have also speculated the dumps may be motivated by a hope they influence Russian elections scheduled for next month.
Attributing the real-world identities or nationalities to people behind Internet hacks is almost always a tough undertaking that’s prone to error.
If one or more Russian government groups are behind the attacks and subsequent leaks, Friday’s dump represents a troubling escalation, because the Obama administration has already signaled it’s considering new sanctions on Russia related to the DNC breach.
Even if Russia has nothing to do with the attacks, this much seems clear: Guccifer 2.0’s objective seems to be to deepen suspicions about the integrity of the US election and throw the Democratic party into disarray. Welcome to politics in 2016.