Russian intelligence agents allegedly used Bitcoin in U.S. election hack
MANILA, Philippines - The United States Department of Justice, on Saturday, July 14, indicted 12 Russian intelligence agents for allegedly attempting to influence the 2016 US presidential elections by hacking into the computers and emails of the Democratic National Committee (DNC) and the Clinton presidential campaign.
Friday’s indictment described how the agents stole and spread the information they obtained with the help of cryptocurrency, Bitcoin.
"The use of bitcoin allowed the conspirators to avoid direct relationships with traditional financial institutions, allowing them to evade greater scrutiny of their identities and sources of funds," the indictment read.
The agents who went by online names like “Kate S. Milton”, “James McMorgans”, and “Karen W. Miller" reportedly used cryptocurrency Bitcoin to pay for servers and web domains that distributed the stolen information.
According to Bitcoin and blockchain news website, Bitcoinist, one of the registered domains used by the hackers to post stolen documents was called DCLeaks.com.
Meanwhile, the agents funded their hacking operations through a variety of means involving cryptocurrency, including the mining of Bitcoin.
“This included purchasing bitcoin through peer-to-peer exchanges, moving funds through other digital currencies, and using pre-paid cards. They also enlisted the assistance of one or more third-party exchangers who facilitated layered transactions through digital currency exchange platforms providing heightened anonymity.”
They operated under the assumption that by using Bitcoin, said to be completely untraceable, they could maintain anonymity and avoid detection for their operations. Their assumption proved to be wrong as US investigators were able to identify some of their digital transactions by getting hold of Bitcoin addresses registered on the blockchain.
All 12 agents, who carried out the attacks by using a malware called “X-Agent”, are currently residing in Russia. It remains to be seen whether they will be tried in a US court with President Donald Trump considering extradition. – Rappler.com