East Oregonian : E.O. (Pendleton, OR) 1888-current, January 13, 2018, WEEKEND EDITION, Page Page 11A, Image 11

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Saturday, January 13, 2018
East Oregonian
Page 11A
Cybersecurity firm: U.S. Senate
in Russian hackers’ crosshairs
PARIS (AP) — The same
Russian government-aligned
hackers who penetrated the
Democratic Party have spent
the past few months laying
the groundwork for an espi-
onage campaign against the
U.S. Senate, a cybersecurity
firm said Friday.
The revelation suggests
the group often nicknamed
Fancy Bear, whose hacking
campaign scrambled the
2016 U.S. electoral contest,
is still busy trying to gather
the emails of America’s
political elite.
“They’re still very active
— in making preparations at
least — to influence public
opinion again,” said Feike
Hacquebord, a security
researcher at Trend Micro
Inc., which published the
report . “They are looking
for information they might
leak later.”
The Senate Sergeant
at Arms office, which is
responsible for the upper
house’s security, declined to
Hacquebord said he
based his report on the
discovery of a clutch of
suspicious-looking websites
dressed up to look like the
U.S. Senate’s internal email
system. He then cross-ref-
erenced digital fingerprints
associated with those sites to
ones used almost exclusively
by Fancy Bear, which his
Tokyo-based firm dubs
“Pawn Storm.”
Trend Micro previously
drew international attention
when it used an identical
technique to uncover a set of
decoy websites apparently
set up to harvest emails
from the French presiden-
tial candidate Emmanuel
Macron’s campaign in April
2017. The sites’ discovery
was followed two months
later by a still-unexplained
publication of private emails
from several Macron staffers
in the final days of the race.
Hacquebord said the rogue
Senate sites — which were
set up in June and September
of 2017 — matched their
French counterparts.
“That is exactly the way
they attacked the Macron
campaign in France,” he
Attribution is extremely
tricky in the world of
cybersecurity, where hackers
routinely use misdirection
and red herrings to fool their
AP Photo/John Minchillo
In this Jan. 2017 file photo, the U.S. Capitol Building is
illuminated during sunrise in Washington.
adversaries. But Tend Micro,
which has followed Fancy
Bear for years, said there
could be no doubt.
“We are 100 percent sure
that it can attributed to the
Pawn Storm group,” said
Rik Ferguson, one of the
Hacquebord’s colleagues.
Like many cyberse-
curity companies, Trend
Micro refuses to speculate
publicly on who is behind
such groups, referring to
Pawn Storm only as having
“Russia-related interests.”
But the U.S. intelligence
community alleges that
Russia’s military intelligence
service pulls the hackers’
strings and a months-long
Associated Press investiga-
tion into the group, drawing
on a vast database of targets
supplied by the cybersecu-
rity firm Secureworks, has
determined that the group is
closely attuned to the Krem-
lin’s objectives.
If Fancy Bear has targeted
the Senate over the past few
months, it wouldn’t be the
first time. An AP analysis of
Secureworks’ list shows that
several staffers there were
targeted between 2015 and
Among them: Robert
Zarate, now the foreign
policy adviser to Florida
Senator Marco Rubio; Josh
Holmes, a former chief of
staff to Senate Majority
Leader Mitch McConnell
who now runs a Washington
consultancy; and Jason
Thielman, the chief of staff
to Montana Senator Steve
Daines. A Congressional
researcher specializing in
national security issues was
also targeted.
Fancy Bear’s interests
aren’t limited to U.S. poli-
tics; the group also appears
to have the Olympics in
Trend Micro’s report said
the group had set up infra-
structure aimed at collecting
emails from a series of
Olympic winter sports
federations, including the
International Ski Federation,
the International Ice Hockey
Federation, the International
Bobsleigh & Skeleton Feder-
ation, the International Luge
Federation and the Interna-
tional Biathlon Union.
The targeting of Olympic
groups comes as relations
between Russia and the Inter-
national Olympic Committee
are particularly fraught.
Russian athletes are being
forced to compete under a
neutral flag in the upcoming
following an extraordinary
doping scandal that has
seen 43 athletes and several
Russian officials banned
for life. Amid speculation
that Russia could retaliate
by orchestrating the leak of
prominent Olympic officials’
emails, cybersecurity firms
including McAfee and
ThreatConnect have picked
up on signs that state-backed
hackers are making moves
against winter sports staff
and anti-doping officials.
On Wednesday, a group
that has brazenly adopted the
Fancy Bear nickname began
publishing what appeared to
be Olympics and doping-re-
lated emails from between
September 2016 and March
2017. The contents were
largely unremarkable but
their publication was covered
extensively by Russian state
media and some read the
leak as a warning to Olympic
officials not to press Moscow
too hard over the doping
AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez
A work crew cleans up an area of Highway 101 that flooded in Montecito, Calif.
Most of mudslide-stricken town told to empty out
(AP) — Most residents of
mudslide-ravaged Montecito
were under orders to clear
out Friday as the search
for victims dragged on and
crews labored to clean up
massive debris and repair
power, water and gas lines.
Even those who didn’t
lose their homes in the
disaster that left at least 18
people dead were told to
leave for up to two weeks so
they wouldn’t interfere with
the rescue and recovery
It was another frustrating
turn for those living in the
Southern California town
that has been subject to
repeated evacuation orders
in recent weeks, first because
of a monster wildfire last
month, then because of
downpours and mudslides.
Cia Monroe said her
family was lucky their home
wasn’t ruined and they were
all healthy and safe, though
her daughter lost one of her
best friends.
But Monroe said it was
stressful after evacuating
three times during the
wildfire to be packing up a
fourth time. A family had
offered them a room to stay
overnight, but then they
were looking at spending up
to $3,000 a week for a hotel.
“Where do you go when
you’re a family of four and
you don’t have a second
house?” Monroe asked,
noting that some residents
of town have third and
fourth homes. “Financially
that’s a burden.”
More than 1,200 workers
taking part in the search and
cleanup effort flooded into
the town with a population
of about 9,000.
Curious and concerned
citizens who had trudged
through the mud Thursday
to view the devastation
were nowhere to be seen as
more firefighters in bright
yellow rain gear searched
methodically and utility
crews in orange safety vests
worked with chain saws
and jackhammers.
A backhoe scooped
up mud and rocks around
homes, while bulldozers
cleared roads of tangled
trees, muck and boulders.
Tanker trucks were being
used to haul off floodwa-
ters sucked up from U.S.
Highway 101, the crippled
coastal route connecting
Santa Barbara to Ventura.
Santa Barbara County
Sheriff Bill Brown said
residents who had stayed
behind or tried to check on
damage in neighborhoods
where homes were leveled
blocked roads and littered
properties had hindered the
recovery effort.
On Thursday, Brown
expanded what was known
as the public safety exclusion
zone to incorporate most of
the town. That meant even
those who had stayed behind
would have to leave and
those who entered the zone
would be subject to arrest.
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Pendleton, OR 97801
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