By Joseph Horch
Technology & Innovation Writer
Fancybear and Cozybear; these names are not usually synonymous with terrorists, however, they arguably are the greatest threat to American security. Fancybear and Cozybear are the nicknames of two Russian hacker groups.
Both are backed and receive protection from Moscow. They are also responsible for hacking the Democratic National Convention (DNC), the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA), and former Secretary of State Colin Powell.
These groups have been described as “cyber-mercenaries.” They carry out the biddings of the Kremlin, in return for protection from foreign states, like the United States.
The hackers were able to steal materials that led to the resignation of former DNC chairwomen Debbie Wasserman Schultz and the health records of American athletes Simone Biles, Venus Williams and, Serena Williams.
These groups are also responsible for hacking the German Bundestag (Germany’s Parliament) back in 2015. According to NBC News the hackers were able to gain access by hacking into the email accounts of German officials. Once inside the Bundestag’s internal network, the hackers were able to control lawmaker’s computers remotely. This gave the bears the abilities to steal information and alter government data.
Since then President Vladimir Putin has been pressed by international governments to address these hacker groups and Russia’s backing of the groups. Mr. Putin has strongly denied these claims, saying that they are “an attempt to distract the public.”
But what does all this mean? So far there has been no international retaliation to the attacks. That is not to say the United States is not launching cyber-attacks of its own, they are, thanks to organizations like the N.S.A. and C.I.A. But other than launching attacks of their own, there is seemingly nothing that can be done to bring these hackers to justice.
Some believe that there could be a silver lining to cyber hacking, more transparency. After the DNC had been hacked, emails revealed that then chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz conspired against then presidential hopeful Bernie Sanders. In 2013, when retail giant Target was hacked, it took the company nearly three weeks to confirm that 40 million customers credit cards were compromised.
Everyone by now is familiar with the criticism Democratic Presidential Nominee Hilary Clinton has received for using a private email server while serving as Secretary of State. Politicians and business owners now face an uncertain future where their dealings could be made public by a cyber-attack. Thus, they may become more transparent and offer the public more information.
Cyber security experts have attempted to reason why the Russians would be carrying out such attacks. The nation’s economy is shrinking due to international trade embargos, yet President Vladimir Putin has an approval rating of 80 percent. The conclusion many have come to is quite simple; Russia will continue to hack foreign states because they have the capabilities to.
As technology continues to advance at frightening speeds civilians and officials alike, face the growing threat of a cyber-attack.
A version of this article appeared in the Tuesday, September 27th print edition.
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