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28 January 2018, 12:40 | Colleen Roy
Dutch intelligence agency spied on and took photos of Russia-linked Cozy Bear hackers
Dutch intelligence services have provided "crucial evidence" to U.S. counterparts about Russian meddling in the 2016 elections, Dutch media reported Friday.
/ Rob Bertholee (L), head of the General Intelligence and Security Service of the Netherlands (AIVD), and Dutch Minister Ronald Plasterk of the Ministry of the Interior, address a press conference on the presentation of the AIVD's annual report in Zoetermeer, the Netherlands, on April 21, 2016. Given the purported existence of reams of pictures taken over the course of one to two years showing every person involved in hacking the DNC in 2015, it is unusual that no details have come out about precisely who was involved in the SVR intelligence unit (commonly known as either "Cozy Bear" or "APT 29" by security analysts).
AIVD's hackers were in place to see the infamous Cozy Bear hacking group launch its attack on the United States' Democratic Party, an assault which resulted in emails being leaked, creating a controversy which - in the view of Hillary Clinton - may have swung the USA presidential election. By November, the JSCU had infiltrated the Russian network, and accessed the camera, witnessing how, and likely who was involved in a massive cyber attack carried out against the United States.
Their camera access was said to add to evidence that the hacks from the group were backed by Russia's Foreign Intelligence Agency. Cozy Bear is suspected of having ties to the Russian government.
In the past eight months, members of Trump's campaign, family and White House staff have all been interviewed, and four indictments have been issued, with two guilty pleas as the investigation has spiralled closer to Trump himself. But American intelligence agencies have said "with high confidence" they believe the Kremlin was behind the attack on the Democratic Party.
The exact timing of when the Dutch lost access to the Russian network is unclear, though the Volksrant report says that the AIVD that they watched hacks on Democratic leaders.
President Trump has dismissed claims of Russian interference to support him, saying that it stems from Democrats' unhappiness at his win. And it was the information that they were able to provide to the United States shed light on Cozy Bear.
Both of the Dutch news reports rely exclusively on anonymous sources from Dutch and American intelligence agencies, diplomatic services, and other government divisions. Dutch hackers from AIVD had access to the Russian hacker group for years, according to de Volkskrant. The massive attack took around 24 hours to mitigate.
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