Russian hacking, 2016 U.S. elections, social media, fake Americans, Russian bots and trolls, FBI, Steele Dossier | Homeland Security Newswire

The Russia connectionDutch intelligence instrumental in launching FBI’s investigation into U.S. election meddling

Published 26 January 2018

In 2014, Dutch government hackers from AIVD, the Dutch intelligence agency, managed to infiltrate “the computer network of the infamous Russian hacker group Cozy Bear,” a Dutch newspaper reports. A year later, the Dutch operatives witnessed “Russian hackers launching an attack on the Democratic Party in the United States.” The penetration of the Russian network allowed the Dutch intelligence services to provide the FBI with valuable information. The Steele Dossier was taken so seriously by the FBI not only because Christopher Steele was a credible and reliable Russia expert – but because much of the raw intelligence contained in the dossier dovetailed with information the FBI already had from other sources – one of them being Dutch intelligence.

The Dutch daily newspaper de Volkskrant reported that in 2014, Dutch government hackers from AIVD, the Dutch intelligence agency, managed to infiltrate “the computer network of the infamous Russian hacker group Cozy Bear.” A year later, the Dutch operatives witnessed “Russian hackers launching an attack on the Democratic Party in the United States.”

That’s how the AIVD becomes witness to the Russian hackers harassing and penetrating the leaders of the Democratic Party, transferring thousands of emails and documents. It won’t be the last time they alert their American counterparts. And yet, it will be months before the United States realize what this warning means: that with these hacks the Russians have interfered with the American elections. And the AIVD hackers have seen it happening before their very eyes.

The Dutch access provides crucial evidence of the Russian involvement in the hacking of the Democratic Party, according to six American and Dutch sources who are familiar with the material, but wish to remain anonymous. It’s also grounds for the FBI to start an investigation into the influence of the Russian interference on the election race between the Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton and the Republican candidate Donald Trump.

Engadget reports that according to de Volkskrant, when an AIVD hacker penetrated “the computer network of a university building next to the Red Square in Moscow” in 2014, he did not know it was the home to Cozy Bear. Still, the penetration of the Russian network allowed the Dutch intelligence services to provide the FBI with valuable information, including security video footage of people coming and going from the facility.