Infamous Russian hacker group Fancy Bear, linked to state intelligence agency GRU, has been accused of targeting hundreds of journalists in a sustained, ongoing attack dating back to mid-2014.
The Associated Press reports that as at least 200 journalists, bloggers and publishers have been targeted by the hacking group known as Fancy Bear since as early as mid-2014 and as recently as a few months ago.
Journalists were the third-largest group on the hackers’ targeted hit-list, according to data from cybersecurity firm Secureworks, right after diplomatic personnel and U.S. Democrats. For example, major Russian television anchor Pavel Lobkov was hacked by the group before his private Facebook messages were leaked to the public soon after.
“Another 50 were either foreign correspondents based in Moscow or Russian reporters [at] independent news outlets,” the AP reports. “Others were prominent media figures in Ukraine, Moldova, the Baltics or Washington.”
US-based journalists include a Washington Post columnist and a Daily Beast intelligence community writer.
Fancy Bear is most commonly known as the hacking group behind the leak of Hillary Clinton’s emails following the breach of Democratic National Committee (DNC) servers. The group has also pursued over 30 media targets in Ukraine including journalists who reported from the middle of the Russian-backed war in Ukraine’s east.
“The idea was to discredit the independent Ukrainian voices,” said Nataliya Gumenyuk, co-founder of Ukrainian internet news site Hromadske, pointing the finger at the hackers as they sought comprising information.
“It’s about gaining access to sources and intimidating those journalists,” said Courtney Radsch, advocacy director of the Committee to Protect Journalists.
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