A new investigation revealed that the overwhelming majority of officials targeted by the Russian Fancy Bear email hack were not alerted by the FBI.
A new investigation launched by The Associated Press (AP) just revealed that the US Federal Investigation Bureau (FBI) neglected to alert relevant US officials of the notorious Russian email hacking scam, despite them having enough evidence to justify issuing an alert. The hack, called Fancy Bear, targeted several US officials as hackers tried to access their personal email accounts.
The Associated Press has revealed that only two out of 80 targeted US officials were notified of the email hack.
The investigation launched by the AP spanned over a period of two months wherein which the investigating team interviewed officials that were targeted by the so-called Fancy Bear hacking group. This group, originating from Russia, has been confirmed by the cybersecurity company SecureWorks, to be affiliated with the Russian government and operates by conducting cyberespionage.
In their investigation, the AP conducted interviews with 190 of the estimated 500 affected government officials.
Several of the officials have retired since the hack , however, over 25% of targeted individuals were still held their official position and enjoyed a high level of security clearance. During the interviews, several officials said that they only received communication from the FBI regarding the hack after hundreds of personal emails were published on the internet during the 2016 electoral campaign.
According to the former senior administrator of the Director of National Intelligence, Charles Sowell, the FBI’s failure to alert official is inexcusable. While the FBI claimed that the amount of hacked emails were simply too much data to process, Sowell compared the case to a serial killer investigation and concluded that this excuse rings hollow in the face of national security.
According to the AP, three undisclosed sources confirmed that the FBI was aware of the Fancy Bear hacking campaign, despite their failure to notify victims of the hack.
The AP investigation confirmed that 131 out of 312 targeted individuals who held positions in either the US government or military, unknowingly clicked on malicious links that the Fancy Bear hackers sent to them. It has not yet been confirmed how many individuals gave out their personal details unknowingly or whether the hackers stole their details.
In response to the AP’s investigation, the FBI merely stated that their agency alerts organizations and individuals routinely of relevant threats.
The Fancy Bear hack of 2016 caused widespread implications, as the group is thought to be behind a massive cyber attack which hugely compromised the Democratic National Party’s campaign during last year’s controversial US electoral campaign. To date, various US-led investigations have confirmed that Russian president, Vladimir Putin, is behind the complex cyber attacks which are thought to have influenced the 2016 election outcome. The attack involved complex techniques which are thought to have swayed the election outcome in current US president Donald Trump’s favor.
While several US committees have launched their own investigations as to the ties between Trump and Russia, Putin has denied any involvement, and Trump has expressed his disdain for the investigations in interviews as well as his Twitter account.