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:

I am a cybersecurity and IT instructor, cybersecurity analyst, pen-tester, trainer, and speaker. I am an owner of the WyzCo Group Inc. In addition to consulting on security products and services, I also conduct security audits, compliance audits, vulnerability assessments and penetration tests. I also teach Cybersecurity Awareness Training classes. I work as an information technology and cybersecurity instructor for several training and certification organizations. I have worked in corporate, military, government, and workforce development training environments I am a frequent speaker at professional conferences such as the Minnesota Bloggers Conference, Secure360 Security Conference in 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019, the (ISC)2 World Congress 2016, and the ISSA International Conference 2017, and many local community organizations, including Chambers of Commerce, SCORE, and several school districts. I have been blogging on cybersecurity since 2006 at

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