Report: Russia Hacked Ukrainian Gas Company Burisma As Impeachment Got Underway
Ukrainian gas company Burisma was at the center of President Donald Trump’s efforts to convince Ukraine’s government to investigate former Vice President Joe Biden and his son, Hunter, by withholding military aid to the country — eventually sparking the impeachment inquiry that resulted in two articles of impeachment against the president.
Now The New York Times reports that around the same time impeachment talk was heating up in the United States, Russian military hackers busied themselves with a cyberattack against the very same Ukrainian gas company.
Security experts told the Times that it remains unclear what the hackers were looking for or what they might have found, but based on the timing and scale of the attacks, the Russians were likely looking for information damaging to the Bidens.
The Times noted that this is “the same kind of information that Mr. Trump wanted from Ukraine when he pressed for an investigation of the Bidens and Burisma, setting off a chain of events that led to his impeachment.”
According to Area 1, the security firm that detected the hacking, hackers from a Russian military intelligence unit known formerly as the GRU used phishing emails intended to steal login information. The hackers “set up fake websites that mimicked sign-in pages of Burisma subsidiaries, and have been blasting Burisma employees with emails meant to look like they are coming from inside the company.”
Area 1 said some of the employees were duped by the scheme and handed over information allowing the hackers access to one of Burisma’s servers.
“The timing of the Russian campaign mirrors the GRU hacks we saw in 2016 against the DNC and John Podesta,” said Oren Falkowitz, a co-founder of Area 1 who previously served at the National Security Agency. “Once again, they are stealing email credentials, in what we can only assume is a repeat of Russian interference in the last election.”
The Biden campaign told the Times that the hacking is simply proof that Russia views the former vice president as a threat, also highlighting Trump’s apparent willingness to let foreign adversaries meddle in U.S. elections.
“Donald Trump tried to coerce Ukraine into lying about Joe Biden and a major bipartisan, international anti-corruption victory because he recognized that he can’t beat the vice president,” said campaign spokesperson Andrew Bates.
“Now we know that Vladimir Putin also sees Joe Biden as a threat. Any American president who had not repeatedly encouraged foreign interventions of this kind would immediately condemn this attack on the sovereignty of our elections.”