More details have begun to emerge about the Russian interference in the 2016 U.S. presidential election. By now, it’s been confirmed beyond a shadow of a doubt that Vladimir Putin and his cryptogangster government actively sought to get conman reality TV star Donald Trump elected and keep Hillary Clinton out of the White House, where she would have proven a formidable adversary for the Russian dictator.
Dutch newspaper de Volkskrant reports that Dutch intelligence agency AIVD hacked and spied on the Russian hacker cell known as Cozy Bear, the group that hacked the Democratic Party. AIVD gained access to the headquarters of the Russian hacking unit in 2014 and observed them into 2017.
Intelligence agencies around the world have been trying to locate Cozy Bear’s location since the group first appeared on the international scene in 2010. The Russian outfit has attacked numerous companies and governments since its inception.
AIVD traced them to a specific building near the Red Square in Moscow. The Dutch efforts were so successful that they even gained access to the security cameras with the Cozy Bear headquarters.
“A security camera records who enters and who exits the room. The AIVD hackers manage to gain access to that camera. Not only can the intelligence service now see what the Russians are doing, they can also see who’s doing it. Pictures are taken of every visitor. In Zoetermeer, these pictures are analyzed and compared to known Russian spies. Again, they’ve acquired information that will later prove to be vital,” writes Huib Modderkolk of de Volkskrant.
The Dutch spies were able to inform the NSA and FBI when the Russians launched a hacking attack on the U.S. Department of State, which allowed the American agencies to respond to the threat in real time, preventing the hackers from penetrating too far into the system. The cyber battle lasted for 24 hours and was later called the “worst attack ever” on the American government.
It’s still unclear how much intel the Dutch hackers were able to obtain on Cozy Bear, but the information was handed over to American intelligence agencies and then subsequently passed on to special counsel Robert Mueller to aid in his investigation into Russia’s 2016 election interference and possible collusion between Russia and the Trump campaign.