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Transparency Activists Dump Hundreds of Thousands of Russian Hacked Emails WikiLeaks Style

“What goes around comes around” is a modernized, albeit foreboding way of saying “what’s good for the goose is good for the gander,” a roll off the tongue phrase common in kindler, gentler times. Apparently, either way so it is with hacked emails: What's good for Russia is also bad for Russia. Here's how:

Last Friday, a group of “transparency activists” behind a website called Distributed Denial of Secrets (DDoS) released a raft of Russian hacked emails and leaked documents in a WikiLeaks style data dump.

The targets are said to include “Russian politicians, journalists, oligarchs, religious and social figures," the group said, according to a Daily Beast report. Emma Best, its co-founder and a security journalist, said the content includes “stuff from politicians, journalists, bankers, folks in oligarch and religious circles, nationalists, separatists, terrorists operating in Ukraine,” contained in “hundreds of thousands of emails, Skype and Facebook messages, along with lots of docs.”

This is how DDoS describes itself on its website:

“Distributed Denial of Secrets is a transparency collective, aimed at enabling the free transmission of data in the public interest. We aim to avoid any political, corporate or personal leanings, and to act as a simple beacon of available information. As a collective, we do not support any cause, idea or message beyond ensuring that information is available to those who need it most - the people.”

As a condition of publication, the material must be in the public interest and a prima facie case can be made for its veracity.

The data dump was reminiscent of the WikiLeaks release of some 20,000 pages of emails hacked from the personal account of John Podesta, the chair of Hillary Clinton’s 2016 U.S. presidential campaign. DDoS, which launched last month staffed by volunteers, apparently has somewhat different intentions for the site, figuring it will act as a repository for all manner of hacked information intended to help researchers and journalists locate material not easily found elsewhere.

It all sounds transparent enough but in this day and age of omnipresent disinformation there’s always the possibility that the hacked material was laid bare on purpose. But scratch that idea, DDoS said. It reportedly used a security standard called DKIM to verify the cryptographic signatures added by the receiving server.

According to the Daily Beast, the site’s Russia section includes leaked material from Russia’s Ministry of the Interior on the deployment of Russian troops to Ukraine when Russia was denying its military was there. Moreover, hackers known in Russia but obscure in the West, such as Shaltai Boltai, Ukrainian Cyber Alliance, and CyberHunta have been bringing to light previously locked away revealing Russian documents.

Apparently, there’s no shortage of hackers interested in supplying Best with revealing material. Last year, when word spread that she was collecting hacked Russian material, out of nowhere files came to her, including leaks gathered by an organization with its own collection, Best told the Daily Beast.

D. Howard Kass

D. Howard Kass is a contributing editor to MSSP Alert. He brings a career in journalism and market research to the role. He has served as CRN News Editor, Dataquest Channel Analyst, and West Coast Senior Contributing Editor at Channelnomics. As the CEO of The Viewpoint Group, he led groundbreaking market research.