‘Russian hackers’ funded their operations with Bitcoin

US investigators explain how 12 Russian operatives used the cryptocurrency to avoid being easily tracked down by authorities.

The 12 suspected hackers that were indicted by the office of US Special Counsel Robert Mueller for illegally accessing email accounts belonging to Hillary Clinton’s campaign manager John Podesta and the Democratic National Committee, used cryptocurrency to finance their operation.

The Russian intelligence officers allegedly paid for servers and other equipment  hack the email accounts with cryptocurrency. They also reportedly mined Bitcoin to fund their activities.

“The defendants conspired to launder the equivalent of more than $95,000 (£71,483) through a web of transactions structured to capitalise on the perceived anonymity of cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin,” reads the indictment.

The document adds that the hackers used cryptocurrency to “avoid direct relationships with traditional financial institutions” and easily be tracked down by authorities.

The Russian agents allegedly used Bitcoin to set up dcleaks.com, on which they published many of the stolen emails.

Investigators say the Russian operatives converted funds into different cryptocurrencies and acquired Bitcoin through peer-to-peer exchanges. They also say that the same PCs the hackers used for BTC transactions were utilised to create and send test spear-phishing emails (an email-spoofing attack that targets a specific person or organisation in an attempt to gain unauthorised access to sensitive information).

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