The Russians Are Coming!

Cybersecurity professionals are in agreement.  The Russians appear to have been actively engaged in influencing the outcome of our recent Presidential election.  Specifics include compromising and taking over Hilary Clinton’s chief of staff, John Podesta’s personal Gmail account.  This spear phishing exploit used a “near-miss” domain name of “”  to trick John into clicking on a link and and entering his email credentials.  The real domain name is

There was also a lot of Russian originated activity against the voter registration databases at all 50 states.  We reported this on October 24th.  They successfully breached the databases in 13 states.

What is special about the Russians is that rather than creating their own version of the US Cyber Command as a division of their military, they have elected to hire skilled cyber-criminal gangs (known as Cozy Bear and Fancy Bear) as independent contractors for these exploits.  This gives the Russian government plausible deniability.  You can read more about this on TechRepublic.  There is another good article on Naked Security.

So far, it does not appear that any of this activity changed the outcome of the election.  Is this going to become a bigger problem in future elections?  This is another example of how cybersecurity is not baked in from the beginning, but committed to, if at all, as an afterthought.  This, my friends, needs to change.


About the Author:

Cybersecurity analyst, pen-tester, trainer, and speaker. Serving small business owners in the St Paul, Minneapolis, and western Wisconsin area since 2001. Cybersecurity and hacking have been a passion of mine since I entered the computer and networking business in 2000. I hold several cybersecurity certifications including Certified Information Systems Security Professional (CISSP), Certified Advanced Security Pratitioner (CASP), and Certified Ethical Hacker (CEH). Other computer industry certifications include A+, Network+ and Microsoft Certified System Engineer (MCSE). As Cybersecurity Analyst at The WyzCo Group, I help our clients experience high levels of security on their computers, networks, and websites. In addition to consulting on security products and services, we also conduct security audits, vulnerability assessments and full penetration tests. We also work with companies and organizations that need to certify compliance with regulations such as PCI-DSS (credit card processing), HIPAA/HITECH (medical records), and GLBA. We also provide Cybersecurity Awareness Training for clients and their employees. I am a frequent speakers at cybersecurity conferences such as the Minnesota Bloggers Conference, Secure360 Security Conference, the (ISC)2 World Congress, and the ISSA International Conference, and many local community organizations, Chambers of Commerce, SCORE, and several school districts. I have been blogging on cybersecurity since 2008.

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