Russian hackers are blackmailing U.S.-based left-of-center organizations after hacking their email in search of embarrassing information, Bloomberg News reports.
“At least a dozen groups have faced extortion attempts since the U.S. presidential election, said the [unnamed sources], who provided broad outlines of the campaign. The ransom demands are accompanied by samples of sensitive data in the hackers’ possession.”
The FBI and private security companies are investigating.
In one case, a non-profit group and a prominent liberal donor discussed how to use grant money to cover some costs for anti-Trump protesters. The identities were not disclosed, and it’s unclear if the protesters were paid.
At least some groups have paid the ransoms even though there is little guarantee the documents won’t be made public anyway. Demands have ranged from about $30,000 to $150,000, payable in untraceable bitcoins, according to one of the people familiar with the probe.
The Center for American Progress, a Washington think tank founded by Hillary 2016 campaign chairman John Podesta, was asked to pay ransom, according to unnamed sources cited by Bloomberg. A CAP spokeswoman denied the organization was hacked or extorted.
Arabella Advisors, which is a left-of-center donor-advised fund with 150 employees in four offices, acknowledged through spokesman Steve Sampson that it “was affected by cyber crime.” He added, “all facts indicate this was financially motivated.’’