Bitcoin used in alleged Russian election meddling

July 16, 2018
Chris Wheal

US federal prosecutors have revealed that the 12 Russians indicted on Friday for conspiracy to meddle in the 2016 US presidential election used bitcoin to finance their operations.

Twelve Russians indicted on charges of election fraud used bitcoin to finance their operations

Purchases were said to include computer servers and domain registrations and the alleged conspirators reportedly used bitcoin to help keep their identities anonymous.

Crypto anonymity

“The defendants conspired to launder the equivalent of more than $95,000 through a web of transactions structured to capitalize on the perceived anonymity of cryptocurrencies such as bitcoin,” the indictment claimed.

It continued: “The use of bitcoin allowed the conspirators to avoid direct relationships with traditional financial institutions, allowing them to evade greater scrutiny of their identities and sources of funds.”

The alleged conspirators used their purchases to plant malware on the computer networks of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee and the Democratic National Committee.

Phishing attack

This malware consisted of a relatively simple spear-phishing attack, where workers – including Clinton’s campaign chairman – at the targeted institutions were tricked into clicking on emails from rogue accounts that enabled the Russian operatives to steal usernames and passwords.

Armed with this information the alleged Russian conspirators were then able to penetrate the entire network and garner information from lists of Party members.

Trump meets Putin

The revelations came as President Trump prepared for his visit to Russia and meeting with President Putin later on Monday.

On Sunday, in the aftermath of the football World Cup final, Hillary Clinton had a cheeky dig at the US President, saying on Twitter: “Great World Cup. Question for President Trump as he meets Putin: Do you know which team you play for?”

Post written by Chris Wheal
Chris Wheal is editor of OpenLedger's news and features service. An award-wining business journalists himself, he runs a team of freelance journalists from across the UK and north America.

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