Russian hackers targeting liberal groups: report

Russian hackers targeting liberal groups: report
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Russian hackers are reportedly targeting liberal groups from the U.S. in an effort to collect hush money.

Citing people familiar with FBI and private security firms' probes, Bloomberg News reported Monday that Russian hackers are looking at the emails of U.S. progressive groups to find embarrassing details and get hush money.

Since the presidential election, at least 12 groups have faced extortion attempts, according to the report.

Some groups reportedly have paid the money, with amounts ranging from $30,000 to $150,000.

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Bloomberg reported that the hackers involved used some techniques similar to Cozy Bear, which is one of the Russian government groups said to be behind the leaks last year from the Democratic National Committee (DNC).

Two groups that have been asked to pay ransoms according to Bloomberg include the Center for American Progress and Arabella Advisors, though it is not known if Arabella is part of the same campaign as the other groups targeted.

“Arabella Advisors was affected by cyber crime,” said Steve Sampson, a spokesman for the firm.

"All facts indicate this was financially motivated."

A spokeswoman for the Center for American Progress had no comment to Bloomberg, but its president on Monday disputed the report.

"This story is wrong as it relates to CAP. We have been neither hacked nor faced any ransom," Neera Tanden tweeted.

In a subsequent tweet, Tanden responded to a Buzzfeed News reporter who said Tanden disputed the Bloomberg report "naming the group among liberal orgs Russian hackers are reportedly targeting, blackmailing."

"Oh they have attacked us. But we have zero evidence of a hack and never heard of ransom request," she tweeted.

John Hultquist, director of cyber espionage analysis at FireEye Inc. told Bloomberg he would be "cautious concluding that this has any sort of Russian government backing."

“Russian government hackers have aggressively targeted think tanks, and even masqueraded as ransomware operations," he told Bloomberg, "but it’s always possible it is just another shakedown.”
 
Ransomware is code designed to prevent access to a particular system until a sum money is paid. Ransomware attacks have increased significantly in recent years.
 
This report was updated at 9:19 a.m.