CrowdStrike is Russian & Trump Also Asked Ukraine to Revive a Hillary Conspiracy Theory

Favor #2: Trump Also Asked Ukraine to Revive a Hillary Conspiracy Theory

September 25, 2019


By mentioning Crowdstrike in the phone call, the U.S. president was trying to get Russia off the hook for the 2016 email hacks.

Donald Trump was seeking a second quid pro quo in his July 25 phone conversation with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, and it wasn’t about the Bidens.

According to the White House’s summary memo, Zelensky said Ukraine was eager to acquire military aid, particularly anti-tank weapons, for its five-year-old fight against Russia. Trump responded by asking for “a favor”:

“I would like you to do us a favor, though, because our country has been through a lot and Ukraine knows a lot about it. I would like you to find out what happened with this whole situation with Ukraine, they say CrowdStrike … I guess you have one of your wealthy people … The server, they say Ukraine has it. There are a lot of things that went on, the whole situation. I think you’re surrounding yourself with some of the same people. I would like to have the Attorney General call you or your people and I would like to get to the bottom of it.”

Crowdstrike is the cybersecurity firm that in 2016 first identified the presence of Russian military on the Democratic National Committee’s servers. The intelligence community soon came to a “high confidence” conclusion that Russia stole information from the DNC and from Hillary Clinton campaign chair John Podesta — data that later showed up on Wikileaks.

Trump and his supporters have since pushed a conspiracy theory that the Obama-era FBI investigation into the DNC hack was not thorough and that Crowdstrike somehow falsified information to harm Trump. There is no evidence for this. The intelligence community concluded that Russia hacked the DNC. Even the National Republican Congressional Committee later hired Crowdstrike to provide cybersecurity services before the 2018 election.

Read more:  Favor #2: Trump Also Asked Ukraine to Revive a Hillary Conspiracy Theory

Dmitri Alperovitch

Dmitri Alperovitch is a Russian-born American computer security industry executive. He is co-founder and chief technology officer of CrowdStrike. In August 2011, as vice president of threat research at McAfee, he published Operation Shady RAT, a report on suspected Chinese intrusions into at least 72 organizations, including defense contractors, businesses worldwide, the United Nations and the International Olympic Committee.[1] “Alperovitch is an American citizen born in Russia who escaped to the United States with his family during the Soviet era.” [2]

Early life and education

Born in Moscow in the Russian S.F.S.R., a constituent republic of the Soviet Union, Alperovitch is a U.S. citizen.[3] In 1994, his father was granted a visa to Canada, and a year later the family moved to Chattanooga.[4] Alperovitch earned a B.S. in computer science in 2001, and a M.S. in information security in 2003, both from Georgia Institute of Technology. It was the school’s first graduate degree in information security.[5]


Alperovitch worked at a number of computer security startups in the late 1990s and early 2000s, including e-mail security startup CipherTrust[6], where he was one of the leading inventors of the TrustedSource reputation system.[7] Upon acquisition of CipherTrust by Secure Computing in 2006,[8] he led the research team and launched the Software-as-a-Service business for the company. Alperovitch took over as vice president of threat research[9] at McAfee, when the company acquired Secure Computing in 2008.[10]

In January 2010, he led the investigation into Operation Aurora, the Chinese intrusions into Google and two dozen other companies.[11] Subsequently, he led the investigation of Night Dragon espionage operation of the Western multinational oil and gas companies, and traced them to Song Zhiyue, a Chinese national living in Heze City, Shandong Province.[12]

In late 2011, along with entrepreneur George Kurtz[13][14] and Gregg Marston, Dmitri Alperovitch co-founded and became the chief technology officer of CrowdStrike,[15] a security technology company focused on helping enterprises and governments protect their intellectual property and secrets against cyberespionage and cybercrime.

In 2015 CapitalG (formerly Google Capital), led a $100 million capital drive for CrowdStrike.[16] The firm brought on board senior FBI executives, such as Shawn Henry, former executive assistant director (EAD) of the FBI’s Criminal, Cyber, Response and Services Branch, and Steve Chabinsky, former deputy assistant director of the FBI’s Cyber Division. By May of 2017, CrowdStrike has received $256 million in funding from Warburg Pincus, Accel Partners, and Google Capital and its stock was valued at just under $1 billion.[16]

Alperovitch was awarded the prestigious Federal 100 Award for his contributions to the U.S. federal information security [17] and was recognized in 2013 and 2015 as one of Washingtonian (magazine)‘s Tech Titans for his accomplishments in the field of cybersecurity.

In August 2013, he was selected as one of MIT Technology Review’s Top 35 Innovators Under 35, an award previously won by Larry Page, Sergey Brin, and Mark Zuckerberg [18]

In 2016, Politico Magazine featured him as one of “Politico 50” influential thinkers, doers and visionaries transforming American politics[19]

In 2017, Fortune magazine listed Alperovitch in “40 Under 40” annual ranking of the most influential young people in business, along with Emmanuel Macron, Mark Zuckerberg and Serena Williams.[20]

He is a Senior Fellow at the Atlantic Council think tank and was named in December 2013 as one of Foreign Policy’s Top 100 Leading Global Thinkers, along with Angela Merkel, John Kerry, Ben Bernanke and Jeff Bezos [21]


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How Russian intelligence officers interfered in the 2016 election

Twelve Russian military officers have been indicted for breaking into the Democratic Party’s computers, stealing compromising information and selectively releasing it to undermine candidates. Bill Whitaker reports on the case against them

November 24, 2019

by Bill Whitaker

There was a lot of testimony during this past week’s impeachment inquiry about foreign interference in our 2016 election, including the president’s assertion that Ukraine was involved. But the president’s own intelligence agencies say it was the Russians who “hacked” the 2016 elections. Special counsel Robert Mueller spelled it out in his report.

Now the Justice Department has at least two open cases against Russian citizens for interfering with our presidential and congressional races, we decided to take a closer look at one of them – the case against 12 Russian military officers accused of breaking into the Democratic Party’s computers, stealing compromising information, and selectively releasing it to undermine Democratic candidates. There’s no evidence of similar operations against Republicans in 2016. With the 2020 election approaching, the story of “The Russian Hack.”

Robert Anderson: The Russians never left. I can guarantee you in 2016 after this all hit the news, they never left. They didn’t stop doing what they’re doing.

Bill Whitaker: This wasn’t just a one-time thing?

Robert Anderson: No way. Russia doesn’t do it that way.

Robert Anderson should know. He spent 21 years inside the cloak and dagger world of spies and hackers overseeing the FBI’s counterintelligence and cyber Divisions and tracking Moscow’s spy agencies, an alphabet of artifice, the FSB, SVR, and, especially, the GRU.

Robert Anderson: The GRU is military intelligence. So when we look at the attacks that happened during our presidential races in 2016 you had military organizations inside of Russia attacking our infrastructure.

Bill Whitaker: So are they hackers or are they soldiers?

Robert Anderson: So they’re both. And in most cases, in most of these units, they’re not just hackers, they’re probably some of the best mathematical minds in Russia. These are seasoned professionals that have worked their way up the ranks to be in these units to carry out these strategic attacks on behalf of that country.

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These are the hacker-soldiers from GRU unit 26165 who, according to the Justice Department, were responsible for “breaking and entering” into the Democratic Party’s computers remotely, from Moscow. Their names, ranks and faces are now on the FBI’s most wanted list for stealing, among other things, the Democrats’ strategic plans, detailed targeting data, and internal polling. GRU Colonel Aleksandr Osadchuk commanded a separate unit, 74455. One of his officers was in charge of spreading the stolen material to political operatives, bloggers and the media. Another hacked state election boards.

Bill Whitaker: It wasn’t some 400-pound guy in his parent’s basement?

Robert Anderson: No. This was a well-choreographed military operation with units that not only were set up specifically to hack in to obtain information, but other units that were used for psychological warfare were weaponizing that. This is not an operation that was just put together haphazardly.

“It’s not different than Watergate.”

The Justice Department’s National Security Division is overseeing the Russian hacking case.

Assistant Attorney General John Demers runs the division, along with deputies Adam Hickey and Sean Newell. DOJ attorney, Heather Alpino, worked with special counsel Mueller on the Russian indictments. All have access to the underlying intelligence, and have no doubt the Russians interfered in the 2016 election.

Bill Whitaker: This really happened.

John Demers: Yes. That really happened. And we believe that if we had to we could prove that in court tomorrow using only admissible, non-classified evidence to 12 jurors.

Bill Whitaker: Do you ever expect to get the 12 Russian officials to trial?

John Demers: I would be surprised. But the purpose of the indictment isn’t just that, although that’s certainly one of the purposes. The purpose of this kind of indictment is even to educate the public.

For a legal document, the 29-page indictment is a page-turner. It details how U.S. intelligence agencies tracked each defendant’s actions, sometimes by the keystroke, revealing the fictitious names and phony emails used to infiltrate the Democrats’ computers, and tracing the stolen data on its circuitous route from Washington, D.C. to Moscow.

Bill Whitaker: The information in the indictment is very detailed. You have descriptions of the Russian agents typing into their computers.

John Demers: Obviously I can’t go into too much detail because I don’t wanna reveal investigative methods. But the insight here is that behind every one of those keyboards is not an IP address. It’s a human being.

Those indicted GRU agents. The U.S. says one team, working out of a building in Moscow called the “Tower,” created a website and a provocative character to disseminate the stolen material: Guccifer 2.0.

John Demers: So Guccifer 2.0 is a fictional online persona. It’s all an effort on the Russian side to hide their involvement.

Bill Whitaker: And these guys are pretending to be one lone hacker.

John Demers: Correct.

Bill Whitaker: And that works?

John Demers: What it gives them is plausible deniability, right? They don’t need for it to work 100% as long as the Russians can say: “Wasn’t us.”

Posing as Guccifer 2.0, the Russians offered up stolen documents to Julian Assange’s WikiLeaks and self proclaimed “dirty trickster” Roger Stone. It was all part of a broad campaign to disrupt the presidential election. But there was another, less well-known part of the Russian operation: to undermine Democrats running for Congress.

Kelly Ward Burton: It started as large document dumps, where Guccifer 2.0 was kind of taunting and saying, “I have more.”

Kelly Ward Burton was executive director of the DCCC, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, when the Russians hacked the committee’s computers.

Kelly Ward Burton: These bullet points at the top are the summary for how we need to win.

They swiped and dumped on the internet material she told us cost millions of dollars to produce: battle plans for congressional races; demographic research on voters; and extensive dossiers on the weaknesses of their own candidates.

Kelly Ward Burton: So when we deliberate internally about anything, you know, that’s not intended to be made public. And that’s what makes this so important to understand these as stolen documents. It’s not different than Watergate. It’s not different than when, you know, Republicans came into the DNC and stole documents from the file cabinets. It’s the cyber version of that. They came into our office, and they stole our documents. Documents that were never intended to be public. And then they used that in the election.

Ward was shocked when Republicans used the stolen internal materials in a negative ad.

Kelly Ward Burton: We reached out to them and asked them. You know, we– we said, “We have been the victims of a cyberattack by a foreign adversary. Will you make a commitment not to use any of these stolen materials in the– in the campaign, or in the 2016 election?” And they wouldn’t make a commitment to do so.

She says in the months leading up to the elections, Russian tactics evolved. The indiscriminate document dumps became more frequent and strategic.

Kelly Ward Burton: There would be thousands of documents that would show up on one day and then they got smarter, and they started to release specific documents related to our specific races, or documents that were, you know, in our most-targeted states and our most-targeted areas.

The Russian agents stole material about candidates running for Congress in Pennsylvania, New Hampshire, Ohio, Illinois, Nebraska, New Mexico and North Carolina. But one swing state seemed to be the Kremlin’s primary target: Florida.

In 2016, Annette Taddeo was running for Congress in the 26th District, which stretches from South Miami to the Florida Keys, one of the most hotly contested races in this battleground state.  Taddeo had the full backing of the DCCC. But her campaign was upended two weeks before the primary.

Annette Taddeo: I was on my way to a TV debate, live TV debate, and I get the call about the fact that not only were we hacked, but our information is now public, from our polling to our mail plan. In addition to that, the entire “Path to Victory.”

Bill Whitaker: It’s your gameplan?

Annette Taddeo: Yes. My opponent, Joe Garcia, showed up at that debate with a printout of all the documents.

Her primary opponent, a fellow Democrat, used the hacked material as a prop to paint her as a conniving politician. The same day, Guccifer 2.0 dropped this mocking post: “the congressional primaries are also becoming a farce.” Taddeo lost the primary. Garcia went on to lose the election to the Republican candidate.

Bill Whitaker: You describe South Florida as rough and tumble. But this seems to ratchet it up a notch?

Annette Taddeo: We’ve seen a lot here. But this was, this was a foreign government. This was so much bigger. You know, I’ve been told by a lotta people, “You should stop talking about this. It’s really not good for you politically to remind people that you lost.” But I refuse to stop talking about it. Because, again, if it can happen to me, it can happen to anyone. And it didn’t happen to me: It happened to our democracy.

Bill Whitaker: You lost by how much?

Annette Taddeo: About 700 votes.

Marc Caputo: This is a state where elections are decided by a percentage point or so. A coin toss. Add the Russians onto that and you’re looking at a real problem.

Marc Caputo has covered Florida politics for 20 years. The senior writer for Politico was one of the reporters who received and wrote about the hacked documents.

Bill Whitaker: Not a lot of people know that the Russians interfered in five congressional races here in Florida. When did you first get wind of it?

Marc Caputo: Well, I’d been paying attention, like the rest of the press corps, that Russia had been hacking and Russia had been trying to interfere in our election system. And then out of the blue I got contacted by this blogger, Hello Florida.

The blogger turned out to be this man, Aaron Nevins, one of the shadier political operators in the Sunshine State. The Republican strategist wouldn’t talk to us on camera, but he did talk to special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigators. He admits direct-messaging Guccifer 2.0, asking for any Florida-related documents. Seeing a willing participant, the Russians flooded Nevins with hacked materials. “Holy ‘F’ man,” he responded. “I don’t think you realize what you gave me… this is probably worth millions of dollars.” Guccifer 2.0 responded: “OK, you owe me a million” with a smiley face. Nevins posted the stolen documents on his website, organized in files, and alerted Florida journalists who couldn’t resist publishing the Democrats’ secrets. At one point Nevins wrote the Russians: “I honestly think you helped sink Annette Taddeo in Florida 26.”

Bill Whitaker: You played a role in disseminating this stolen information.

Marc Caputo: I have a role to play as a reporter covering campaigns. And sometimes that information comes to us from a variety of sources. And in this case, it came to us from a source right at the edge of being unusable. But ultimately we decided, “Well, this tells a legitimate story about how these campaigns view their own candidates.” And voters have a right to that information.

Robert Anderson: This operation was a huge success.

Former FBI spy-hunter Robert Anderson says Russia’s goals today are the same as in the Soviet era: to sow discord in the U.S. and doubt about our democracy around the world.

Robert Anderson: The thing that you need to worry about with Russia and every one of their intelligence services is they will learn from these operations. They’ll learn how easy it is to gain access to government and private accounts. They’ll learn how quickly the information that they put in front of somebody will be disseminated. They will analyze everything they did right or wrong. And when they attack again, they will not come at you the same way.

Produced by Graham Messick. Associate producer, Jack Weingart. Broadcast associate, Emilio Almonte.

© 2019 CBS Interactive Inc. All Rights Reserved.

Source and video testimonies:

SAP, McAfee, Symantec reportedly let Russia review their code

The security software makers let Russia search for flaws in their products, according to Reuters. That’s a concern for US agencies that use the software.

January 25, 2018

by Roger Cheng

Russia was allowed to dig for vulnerabilities in software used by the US government, according to Reuters.

SAP, Symantec and McAfee, which all sell business and security software to clients around the world, gave Russian authorities the go-ahead to review their code, Reuters reported Thursday. That’s a concern because US government agencies also use the software, US lawmakers and security experts told Reuters, and Russian knowledge of any vulnerabilities presents a security risk.

In order for the companies to operate in Russia, they had to allow local authorities to look at the code, Reuters said. The news service didn’t find any instances where knowledge of the source code played a role in a cyberattack.

The revelation comes amid concerns about Russia’s potential influence over the 2016 US presidential election and the overall worry that we’re all vulnerable to cyberattacks.

Symantec, however, denied that any Russian agency or entity looked at its source code, and noted that the company has revised and updated the software numerous times since  the government review.

“We have no reason to believe that prior reviews impacted the security of our products,” the company said in an e-mailed statement.

SAP says it provides “clean rooms” where government customers can test the code, but can’t bring recording devices.

“Certain SAP governmental customers use security reviews as part of their effort to protect their data and environments by testing for software security flaws,” the company said. “To enable such customers to conduct reviews, SAP maintains a Government Security Program, which allows testing SAP solutions against specific government requirements and handles national law enforcement authorities.

McAfee wasn’t available for comment.

Updated at 2:01 p.m. PT: To include comments from SAP and Symantec.


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