Russian collusion with the Trump campaign
The United States Presidential election in 2016 was a crazy time. Unthinkably, the DNC was hacked by a lone “hacktvist” looking to expose the Illuminati. Guccifer 2.0 claimed to be a lone actor based in Romania. He leaked emails to WikiLeaks that were siphoned from the breach in the DNC servers. He also communicated with Donald Trump’s political advisor, Roger Stone, who admits to corresponding with Guccifer 2.0. For months, the US government has suspected that Guccifer 2.0 was not Romanian, or alone. The hacker was reasonably connected with Russia, until now, we have not had a smoking gun to that effect.
Hackers use VPNs to cloak their identities, and when the DNC was hacked in 2016, authorities traced the activity back to a VPN run in France and headquartered in Russia. Elite VPN is not the kind of place that stores user data, or shares data with government investigators. The trail was cold. Investigators continued to believe that Russia was involved in the hacks, and the Trump camp, including alt-news media Breitbart, continually denied any Russian involvement.
Guccifer 2.0 is not anonymous now
Robert Mueller’s special investigation into the Russian meddling in the 2016 US presidential election has been handed a gift. It is not yet known what Mueller will do with his new information, but one can only hope it will be something definitive. The gift is that Guccifer 2.0 slipped up and didn’t turn his VPN on.
The mistake cost Guccifer 2.0 his anonymity. No longer is it possible for anyone to believe in the lone Romanian vigilante story. An IP address showing activity from Guccifer 2.0 has been traced back directly to Russian GRU headquarters, on Grizodubovoy Street in Moscow. The user is confirmed to be an officer of that agency.
The IP address was traced from a social media post, which the user identified as Guccifer 2.0 actively interfaced with. Investigators were able to finally follow a trail to the reallocation due to this simple human error on the part of a Russian intelligence officer. The implications of this discovery are yet to be felt, but some Americans are holding their breath. It has been widely understood that Trump was colluding with the Russians, now Mueller has direct evidence linking the DNC hack with a Russian officer who was in contact with Trump’s political campaign. The evidence is damning, and hopefully, it will be enough.
For what it’s worth, the GRU also runs Fancy Bear, the hacking group responsible for countless international hacking incidents over the last ten years.
Implications for private VPN users
The VPN slip up in itself is an odd one. Most VPNs, ExpressVPN and IPVanish to name a couple, have an open on startup function to prevent just this type of accident. In addition to being incredibly relevant to the US political scene, this story also highlights the importance of good habit formation for users relying on VPNs. Plenty of private citizens in countries like China and Iran rely on VPNs as a safe means of accessing restricted digital content.
A forgetful mistake like this one could mean big trouble for people who require the protection a VPN offers. If you are someone that uses VPNs for legitimate means, please remember to check your connection before you surf the web. If you are a Russian meddling in US elections… well, thanks for the tip!