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On the morning of March 19, 2016, Den Katenberg ran a little test with big stakes.
The previous week, Katenberg's hacking crew had been bombarding the Hillary Clinton campaign's email accounts with fake Google warnings, trying to get her Brooklyn-based staff to panic, enter their passwords and open their digital lives to Russia's intelligence services.
Clinton - Staffers - Links - Katenberg - Authentication
But the going was tough. Even when Clinton staffers clicked the malicious links Katenberg crafted, two-factor authentication — a second, failsafe password test — still kept him out of their accounts.
After a day of testing on March 18, he took a different tack, striking the Clinton's campaign staff at their personal — and generally less secure — Gmail addresses. At 10:30 the next morning he carried out one last experiment, targeting himself at his own Gmail address to make sure his messages weren't being blocked.
Hour - Barrage - Messages - People - Clinton
An hour later he sent out a barrage of new malicious messages to more than 70 people, including one to Clinton campaign chair John Podesta. By the end of the day, he'd won access to one of the most important inboxes in American politics.
On Friday, the U.S. special counsel said Katenberg was an alias used by Lt. Aleksey Lukashev, an email phishing specialist with Unit 26165 of Russia's Main Intelligence Directorate, often abbreviated GRU.
Katenberg - Messages - Comment - Associated - Press
Katenberg, who did not return multiple messages seeking comment, has been in The Associated Press' sights ever since his email was identified among a massive hacker hit list handed to the news agency by Secureworks last year.
It was that 19,000-line database that allowed the AP to reconstruct Katenberg's digital movements, logging every malicious link he and his colleagues created between March 2015 and May 2016.
Data - Show - Emails - Waves - Time
The data show that the malicious emails came in waves, some 20 or 30 of them at a time, aimed at diplomats, journalists, defense contractors and...
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