Sergei Mikhailov, head of cybersecurity at the Federal Security Service (FSB) of Russia, his deputy Dmitry Dokuchaev, Ruslan Stoyanov, head of the cyber crime investigations department at Kaspersky Lab and a Ukraine-based journalist Vladimir Anikeev have all been arrested to face charges of treason.
The four men are accused of passing on confidential information from within the FSB to the CIA, the central intelligence agency of the US. Stoyanov, an employee of multi-bln dollar cybersecurity firm Kaspersky, is alleged to have passed on sensitive information about the previous Russian government's investigation into agencies outside of Russia.
If proven guilty, the four men will likely face 20 years in prison, the standard sentence for treason in Russia.
Link to DNC hack becoming difficult to establish
In early January, Cointelegraph released an article entitled “Hackers Faked Locations in DNC Hack, McAfee Says it Wasn’t Russia,” which explicitly revealed the beliefs of industry leader John McAfee, founder of cybersecurity firm McAfee, on the DNC-Russia hacking attack controversy.
At the time, McAfee explained that a third party institution or organization would have likely used certain software to disguise the locations of cyber attacks against the DNC. By linking the attacks to Russia and eliminating any possible traces back to themselves, hackers successfully led the US to believe that Russian hackers broke into the DNC.
“If I was the Chinese and I wanted to make it look like the Russians did it, I would use the Russian language within the code, I would use Russian techniques of breaking into the organization. There simply is no way to assign a source for any attack.”
A cover-up initiated by the Russian government?
However, the Russian government launched an official investigation into Mikhailov and his deputy after it was revealed that US cybersecurity firm ThreatConnect claimed that hackers used an Internet hosting company known as King Servers to attack the DNC. The government was concerned with the accusations of the operator of King Servers, who claimed that Mikhailov had been working for the FBI.
Local analysts and media companies aren’t certain if the details of the trial will be released in the near future. The FSB tends to hold trials in secret and usually refuses to reveal information about their trials.
Some experts of the Russian cybersecurity scene including Andrei Soldatov, author of “A History of Russia’s Attempts to Control the Internet,” firmly believe that the arrest of Mikhailov and the other three men are a part of a cover-up being initiated by the Russian government.
Soldatov stated that FSB officers couldn’t have been involved with the Shaltai-Boltai hacking group, who have launched attacks against the government over the past few years.