The very well masked hacker who released a few harmless (albeit hilarious, and maybe pretty good) paintings by George W. Bush has struck again, with more Bush paintings, the leaking of "confidential memos" sent to Hillary Clinton about Benghazi, and access to a high-profile tech figure's address book. The hacking world loves it, and the man known as "Guccifer" probably loves the respect and attention. But all the attention might also lead to his eventual unmasking and downfall — if anyone can ever track him down.
The latest target, according to Guccifer's favorite leak partners at The Smoking Gun, is John Doerr, a venture capitalist at Kleiner Perkins who also happens to sit on President Obama's USA Economic Recovery Advisory Board. Like all the Guccifer hacks before it, this one involved an AOL e-mail account, once again proving that AOL does not have the best security out there. (Everyone: Stop using AOL and get an email account with two-factor verification.) Doerr isn't exactly a member of a high-profile political family, nor a former White House aide communicating with the Secretary of State, but he has political connections and probably has some email exchanges of note. The Smoking Gun says the Doerr account contains over 5,000 emails, so there's probably something in there. And, if not, the unchecked Guccifer will probably just move on to someone else in power who still keeps an AOL email account. Indeed, over the last few months, all these Guccifer hacks of somewhat important people have continued unabated. So, what with all these other hacker crackdowns, why hasn't this guy been outed or prosecuted? And what do we know about this mystery man?
Nobody Knows Who Guccifer Is: There is no record of Guccifer before the Bush hack on February, according to Gawker's Adrian Chen, an expert in unmasking people of this sort. "Guccifer seems to come out of the blue," he writes. Though, as Chen notes, Guccifer has before said that "i have an old game with the fucking bastards inside, this is just another chapter in the game" — and that may indicate he's from an old guard of naughty but nice online hackers. And of course hackers often switch from pseudonym to pseudonym to elude prosecution, so that probably explains why this "Guccifer" character had no history of acting up before this year. Nobody has been able to connect his latest nom de plume with any others. Chen has put out a public call for leads, and I second that: Any information on Guccifer is welcome.
The Feds Are on It, Apparently: After sending out correspondences between Hillary Clinton and her former aide Sidney Blumenthal, CNN confirmed Wednesday that the "U.S. government's best investigators" are on the case. The Smoking Gun claims Guccifer is a part of a "mushrooming federal criminal investigation." Of course, Guccifer told the Smoking Gun in February, just before he unleashed Bush's hobby upon the Internet, that the "feds" had begun an investigation into him "a long time ago." So, yeah, he's a veteran. And, yes, if the government has been investigating him for a while, they haven't had much success — unless he's part of something bigger, and hacking ex-presidents and Obama advisors and silly Clinton emails, even if for fun and not exactly the biggest national-security threat, could mean he's got more menacing friends.
Clues Are Sparse: Instead of forwarding files, Guccifer takes the effort to get rid of any meta data that could lead back to him, recopying files and then taking screen shots of those copies and sending them along to willing outlets from Gawker and the The Smoking Gun to The St. Petersburg Times and the Kremlin-backed Russia Today. But his process might still leave enough of a digital trail for the feds to find some breadcrumbs:
- He might be in Russia! The Smoking Gun traced two IP addresses back to the Russian Federation, and Guccifer favors Russian outlets like Pravda, The Moscow Times, and Russia Today's RT.com, which published the Clinton "Benghazi" emails last night. But as TSG notes, this could all mean nothing about his whereabouts since "hackers go to great lengths to obscure their trail via proxies, IP spoofing, and powerful anonymizing software like Tor." Even his blasting out "leaks" to all those Russian outlets might be a way throw investigators off his trail.
- He loves the illuminati! Guccifer likes to reference government conspiracies in his emails to The Smoking Gun, a sentiment which may or may not be genuine, as Chen notes.
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.
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