Campaign hackers targeting Senate, researchers say

Russian hackers have reportedly targeted a series of Olympic winter sports federations

Fancy Bear is feared to be laying the groundwork to spy on US Senate staff

Russian hackers from the group known as "Fancy Bear" are targeting the U.S. Senate with a new espionage campaign, according to cybersecurity firm Trend Micro.

The hackers' activities began in June 2017 when they attempted to compromise a lawmaker's credentials through a phishing site created to look like the Senate's internal email system. 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.

"We are 100% sure that it can be attributed to the Pawn Storm group", said Rik Ferguson, one of Mr Hacquebord's colleagues.

The U.S. intelligence community subsequently concluded that state-sponsored hackers breached the DNC and other targets as part of an election meddling campaign authorized by Russian President Vladimir Putin, and Moscow's involvement is now the subject of ongoing investigations in the House, Senate and Department of Justice.

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 staff there were targeted between 2015 and 2016. Among them: Robert Zarate, now the foreign policy adviser to Florida Sen. Steve Daines. A Congressional researcher specializing in national security issues was also targeted.

Fancy Bear's interests are not limited to USA politics; the group also appears to have the Olympics in mind. Russian athletes are being forced to compete under a neutral flag in the upcoming Pyeongchang Olympics following an extraordinary doping scandal that has seen 43 athletes and several Russian officials banned for life.

On Wednesday, they published a handful of emails which date from late 2016 to spring 2017 and appear to be between International Olympic Committee employees and third parties discussing the Russian doping conspiracy.

While Senate emails are safeguarded by security measures meant to prevent unauthorized access, cybercriminals - and sophisticated, state-sponsored hackers, in particular - are nonetheless potentially capable of exploiting them to their advantage. Previous warnings that German lawmakers' correspondence might be leaked by Fancy Bear ahead of last year's election there appear to have come to nothing. He said that while he supported transparency, "there should be some process and some system to it".

A month after the International Olympic Committee banned Russian Federation from the 2018 Winter Olympics over doping concerns, hackers have released a set of emails related to the games set for February in South Korea.

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