Following the Friday night dump of Democratic files released by the hacker Guccifer 2.0, which included the contact information of all Congressional democrats including personal emails and cell phone numbers, the reaction has been swift, and nowhere more so than in the case of House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, who said that after receiving "scores of mostly obscene and sick calls, voicemails and text messages", she was forced to change her number, she said on Saturday.
"Please be careful not to allow your children or family members to answer your phone" she said while urging members and staff who were receiving similar calls to change their phone numbers,
Pelosi added that she was on a flight to from Florida to California when the information was released, and received the unwanted messages upon landing.
As we reported on Friday night, the hacking group "Guccifer 2.0" claimed responsibility for the breach, which took documents from the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee. American officials have said the hack is likely the work of Russian intelligence services. They have yet to show any evidence to substantiate the allegations.
Friday’s was the latest release of information from cyber-attacks against Democratic organizations as the 2016 elections heat up. The FBI has said it has "high confidence" the Russian government hacked party groups and the personal e-mails of political operatives, despite repeated denials by the actual infiltrators.
Pelosi said the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee has hired a cybersecurity technology firm to investigate the breach, which she termed “an electronic Watergate break-in” and that the Capitol Police were looking at any threats posed by the release. The House information technology system wasn’t compromised, Pelosi said.
Appended to Pelosi’s letter was a memo from John Ramsey, chief information security officer for the House, outlining steps that should be taken immediately by those affected, from changing passwords to contacting police if they receive any threats.
Moments ago, the WSJ reported that Democrats brace for even more hacked leaks, after the two websites, the Wordpress site of Guccifer 2.0 and that of DCLeaks, now serve as portals for leaking sensitive and at times embarrassing information about the Democratic Party and its supporters. The WSJ adds that "the precise motives of the entities controlling these webpages cannot be learned because their identities are unclear" but, like virtually everyone else, suggest that the Russian government is behind the operation, something the Kremlin has furiously rejected.
U.S. officials are now debating whether to publicly accuse the Russian government of conducting the attacks, two people familiar with the deliberations said, though no final decision about how to proceed has been made.
“I certainly believe that this is a coordinated Russian effort against the U.S. political process,” said Rep. Jim Himes (D., Conn.), a member of the House Intelligence Committee, in an interview Sunday. “It’s an act of hostility by a foreign power.”
It is unclear just how a potential case of cyberwar would escalate if indeed the US launches a formal retaliation against Moscow.
Just 24 hours after the democratic spreadsheet was posted on Guccifer 2.0’s WordPress account, another site, DCLeaks.com, released internal records from George Soros’s Open Society Foundations, as reported earlier, including its 2014 priorities in places like Afghanistan, Armenia and Macedonia.
DCLeaks.com previously published the content of emails and records connected to the Democratic Party, as well as those of retired Air Force Gen. Philip Breedlove, a former supreme commander of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization. It also released emails from Republican Party operatives, though those messages were fairly limited and mundane.
DCLeaks.com was created in April, according to website domain registration records. Its contact information is listed as a domain registration company in Australia, a setup that can shield the identity of people creating websites.
Meanwhile, someone appears to finally be asking the right (and simple) question, of why WordPress hasn't figured out who Guccifer 2.0 is. According to the WSJ, "the Guccifer 2.0 WordPress account was created in June, just days after the Democratic National Committee said that Russia-linked hackers had stolen many of its emails and records. WordPress didn’t respond to requests for comment about who created the page."
On its WordPress page, Guccifer 2.0 claims to be from Eastern Europe, though many analysts have questioned parts of its self-published background. Guccifer 2.0 told The Wall Street Journal late Friday in a Twitter direct message conversation that “I’m acting alone” and “I have a lot of docs and emails.” It also said “I won’t disclose my whereabouts for the safety reasons. i have a full archive of docs and emails from the dccc server,” in an apparent reference to the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee.
And while there is no actual data, the conspiracy theories continue to grow: ThreatConnect, a cybersecurity firm, has examined emails purportedly sent by Guccifer 2.0, and said they suggest a direct link between the hacking entity and DCLeaks.com. “There’s something happening between Guccifer 2.0 and DCLeaks,” said Toni Gidwani, ThreatConnect’s director of research operations.
And now we await as the US government formally charges Putin with the first instance of cyberwar waged against US Democrats and on behalf of his "friend" Donald Trump, as the circus that is the US presidential election takes its latest surreal twist.