The Anonymous linked “Fancy Bears” may or may not have been around in 2015, but everyone knows that they have been major players dating back to at least the 2016 Rio Olympics. The weeks leading up to which saw hundreds of Russian athletes banned from participating in the games on the heels of a major doping scandal.
Considering that this whole event was highly political, some speculated that at the time the ban was never really about Russian athletes, it was political payback for some of Russia’s more “aggressive” actions on the world stage recently.
Over the course of the Olympic season and the time immediately thereafter, records belonging to the World Anti-Doping Agency and several other international drug testing agencies were hacked and leaked online. A group calling themselves the Anonymous Fancy Bears were widely credited with the hack.
It just so happens that the records belonging to Serena Williams and Simone Biles were hacked, allegedly showing the picture/document of a failed drug test for these two prominent American athletes – but whom were not banned like their Russian counterparts.
— FOX Sports Asia (@FOXSportsAsia) September 13, 2016
While the hack was real, no one ever “officially verified” the validity of each individual document. Regardless, I bring this up as an example to show you how active these hackers have been in the international headlines before.
Fast forward into today, there is a new report suggesting that the Fancy Bears may have been around for much longer than I realized. For example, they might be the same group of pro-Russian hackers responsible for hacking the DNC, Hillary Clinton and others dating as far back as early 2015. As reported by Gabriela Vatu of Softpedia News on April 24th 2017,the Fancy Bears actually have “a long list of crimes.”
The article was written response to a speech given by Denmark’s Defense Minister Hjort Frederiksen earlier this week, addressing the fact the their Ministry and the emails of everyone working for the agency has been hacked. In her analysis of the event, she point out that the people who hacked Denmark’s Government were “the same group which was linked to the hacking of the Democratic National Committee servers and the subsequent leak of emails during the Presidential campaign of 2016” – something I had not previously heard about before.
Believe it or not, it was Frederiksen himself whom indicated the Russian Fancy Bears were behind the attack, not the media.
— Christine Maguire (@_ChrisMaguire) April 24, 2017
While Frederiksen said that “no classified information was accessed,” he explained that it is still a very dangerous situation for his country. Not just because the Government itself was hacked, but because he knows that the information could be used to “recruit, blackmail or plan further espionage” against Denmark officials in the future – perhaps much like it was done to the US in 2016 😉
Continuing on with his statements on the matter, Frederiksen’s indicated that Russian Operatives were behind the hack. Stating that ” This is part of a continuing war from the Russian side in this field, where we are seeing a very aggressive Russia.“Adding that Denmark’s Defense wasn’t attacked by “small hacker groups doing it for the fun of it. It’s connected to intelligence agencies or central elements in the Russian government, and holding them off is a constant struggle.”
Ironic, considering that we are talking about ‘bears being fancy’ in the same sentence as world-class international espionage – lol.
To follow up on Frederiksen’s statements, on February 26th 2015, Alternative Medi4 covered a speech by Russian Defense Minister Sergey Shoygu. In it, Shoygu goes on to announce that for the first time in Russia’s history, the military has developed a new branch; an ‘informational warfare unit.’ How long has Russia’s military been carrying out criminal acts of international espionage within cyber space before publicly acknowledging it for the first time in 2017? No one knows for sure.
But in response to Russia’s announcement, US Cyber Command released a statement of its own about a week later. Following that, Germany also announced the formation of a new military branch, a National cyber defense force.
As for my analysis of these Fancy Bears themselves, in all of the reporting about the group in the spring of 2016, I remember that the Fancy Bears were a small group of people – I want to say 5 people for some reason. Though their official logo includes the depiction of a Polar Bear/Yeti wearing a Guy Fawkes Mask, many people argued that the Fancy Bears were not really members of Anonymous at all. Rather, they were just hijacking the Anonymous branding and platform to gain more visibility.
By the accounts of Defense Agencies around the world, the Fancy Bears are a pro-Russian Government hacking team, existing solely to expose sensitive material online for political exploitation/propaganda. Whether or not the Fancy Bears get their order from Vladimir Putin himself or not, no one knows for sure.
With that said, these guys are true professionals and like Defense Minister Fredericksen alluded to himself, despite their name, the Fancy Bears are serious business. In my experience though, they are too trained and too direct/specific to ever be a group of random vigilantes on the internet. Moreover, members of Anonymous wouldn’t be so eager to advertise their country of origin so publicly like that.
It is more likely than not that the Fancy Bears are a Government agency and not just a group Russian Nationalists.
Categories: Hacking News