Hackers affiliated with the Russian military have taken aim at Burisma, the Ukrainian natural gas company at the center of the impeachment inquiry into President Trump, according to the New York Times.
Hacking attempts began in early November against the company on whose board former Vice President Joe Biden’s son sat, The Times reported. At the same time the House was investigating a phone call between Trump and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky during which Trump asked Zelensky to investigate the Bidens.
Security experts told the Times the hackers’ findings, as well as what they were looking for, remain unclear, but the timing indicates they could have been in search of the same sort of potentially embarrassing material on the family Trump sought when he asked Zelensky to launch the investigation.
The hackers were affiliated with the G.R.U. military intelligence unit and used phishing emails to target usernames and passwords in a similar manner to the 2016 hack of the Democratic National Committee, according to the Times, in this case establishing mockups of Burisma subsidiaries and sending company employees emails designed to look like internal communications.
The hackers successfully secured login credentials from some employees and successfully infiltrated one of the company’s servers, according to Area 1, the California-based security company that first caught wind of the hack.
“The timing of the Russian campaign mirrors the G.R.U. hacks we saw in 2016 against the D.N.C. and [Hillary Clinton campaign chairman] John Podesta,” Area 1 co-founder Oren Falkowitz said, according to the Times. “Once again, they are stealing email credentials, in what we can only assume is a repeat of Russian interference in the last election.”
Special counsel Robert Mueller indicted seven officers with the G.R.U in 2018.