Guccifer 2.0: Game Over
We’ve seen deliberately placed “Russian Fingerprints”, efforts to forge perceived association to Wikileaks, DNC breach claims discredited, How Guccifer 2.0 Used “Trump Opposition Research” like it was an identity card the day after it was advertised by Shawn Henry in a Washington Post article, noted how he could only ever “hack” the DNC, lacked syntactical traits of a Russian speaking English and recently – has been shown as most likely to have accessed some of his files locally, while on the DNC network (within the Eastern Time zone).
The list of “Additional Articles” are articles unique to this site. These provide further information showing how, why, where and when questionable APT28/29 attributions to Guccifer 2.0 occurred (all were ultimately tenuous) as well as various other relevant topics.
Update – July 16th, 2017
by ADAM CARTER (email)
65E1 C3A4 5C44 9B7A FE9D
2. Timeline – What Happened & When Did It Happen
3. Guccifer2.0’s Claims Debunked & Discredited
4. 3rd Party Assessments – Assumptions & Conjecture vs Evidence & Facts
5. Actions, Consequences & Convenience For Anti-Leak Narratives
6. Rushing To Be Russian – The Donkey In A Bear Costume Made A Mistake
7. Language & Text Analysis
8. Recognizing Intent From Deceptions
9. With Motive & Means – Those More Likely Linked to G2 than Russians
3rd Party Articles
Frequently Asked Questions
There are individuals, who, in reality, now have a much higher likelihood of being linked to Guccifer2.0 than anyone in Russia. – The intention of this article is to inform readers extensively about everything there is to know about Guccifer2.0 and from that, be armed with enough information to give motive and means the regard they deserve.
To understand who Guccifer2.0 could possibly be – it is imperative to understand WHAT Guccifer2.0 was.
What did he do? What did he say? Are his claims now confirmed, debunked or yet to be verified? What were the results of his actions? What do any lies told and the likelihood of them being debunked or remaining secret really imply about his intent? Was there anything misreported or omitted that may have been relevant?
The best way to get a clear picture of how incidents relate to each other and recognize suspect timing is to use a timeline – The timeline below was built using references to every unique piece of information directly relevant to Guccifer 2.0 that I could find on public record (no matter whose narrative it supported – as should be fairly clear).
(2) Guccifer2.0 Timeline – What Happened & When Did It Happen?
(3) Guccifer2.0’s Claims Debunked & Discredited
Before looking at intent, motive, conflicting evidence and more, it’s important to become aware of a few key facts about Guccifer2.0 and some of the claims he made.
CLAIM: Hacked the DNC’s servers – STATUS: Discredited
Guccifer2.0 stated in an interview with Lorenzo Franceschi-Bicchierai (for Motherboard / Vice News) on the 21st of June, that he breached the server using a “0-day exploit of NGP-Van”.
ThreatConnect, although still apparently unswayed from their assessment that Guccifer2.0 is a collective of Russians (we’ll get on to that topic later in the article) – did report some very useful facts that serve to debunk Guccifer2.0’s claims.
a) NGP-Van is a cloud-hosted web-service, the claimed method of breach was concluded “impossible” by ThreatConnect. – It was noted that phishing for credentials would be far more practical for exploiting such a service.
b) He makes claims of lateral movement within the DNC network – but doesn’t realize that his effort to match the reporting of Crowdstrike falls down due to his own misinterpretation of that. – CrowdStrike’s report mentions lateral movement in terms of the “BEAR” infrastructure across the whole of the Internet rather than movement within the DNC network – it looks like Guccifer2.0 s trying to make claims that correlate with what he has inferred from CrowdStrike’s reportage.
c) To quote ThreatConnect at the time (and nothing has been reported to contradict it since): “As it stands now, none of the Guccifer 2.0 breach details can be independently verified“.
CLAIM: Wikileaks Source for DNC Mails – STATUS: Not Verified
Guccifer2.0 put considerable effort into trying to convince people he was the source for the DNC email leaks that ended up in the public domain on July 22nd.
He outright claimed it, multiple times.
He made a point of mentioning Wikileaks in his purposeful destruction of his own reputation on October the 4th (a reference to his Clinton Foundation claims and the files he posted supposedly demonstrating the hack) and on October 18th showed he was trying to push a perception of being associated with Wikileaks and responded to a Wikileaks tweet as though it was intended for him personally (when it wasn’t).
Going back to the 4th, the supposed “Clinton Foundation Hack” – is also where his claim starts to show cracks.
He stated “I can’t post all databases here for they’re too large. I’m looking for a better way to release them now.”.
Why, if he was really the source for the DNC emails, would he be at all struggling to find a solution to get the data published? – Why express this 73 days after the last large batch of data he claims to have acquired was successfully published through Wikileaks?
Even putting seemingly contradictory statements aside – Assange has stated numerous times that the emails were leaked, rather than hacked, in persistent contradiction with Guccifer2.0’s claims and there is still nothing independently verifying Guccifer2.0’s claims.
CLAIM: Hacked Clinton Foundation – STATUS: Discredited
On October 4th, 2016 – Guccifer2.0 claimed to have hacked the Clinton Foundation. He followed this up by posting an archive containing files that were all from previous leaks and from documents in the public domain.
Ultimately, he has never produced anything that actually shows such a hack had taken place.
These are not all of his lies or unverified claims, far from it, but they are the ones that are critical to know so that the rest of this article makes sense to you. Above all, the first is most important – his claims to breach the DNC turned out to be fantasy.
(4) 3rd Party Assessments – Assumptions & Conjecture vs Evidence & Facts
There is a difference between independently verifiable evidence and the activity somebody claims to have engaged in or that can be fabricated in an effort to misdirect and masquerade as someone they’re not. – None of Guccifer2.0’s claims of hacking were independently verifiable and several were debunked by ThreatConnect. – There is nothing demonstrating Guccifer2.0 was really a hacker.
The “evidence” that he’s Russian, should be understood in the following context:
He CHOSE to name his computer account after the founder of the Soviet Secret Police.
He CHOSE to create/open and then save documents so the Russian name was written to metadata.
He CHOSE to use a Russian VPN service to cloak his IP address.
He CHOSE to use public web-based email services that would forward his cloaked IP.
He CHOSE to use the above to contact various media outlets on the same day.
Note: Thanks to a 3rd party’s further investigation, it now appears he may have used a single document as a Russian template (with Russian stylesheet data in), saved it as a set of blank ‘pre-tainted’ files and then opened them later under a different username – copying/pasting in content from original documents into each blank ‘pre-tainted’ document before saving again – as the specific process for creating documents (Stylesheet change RSIDs correlating across files certainly suggest it and the metadata fully corroborates it too).
Guccifer2.0 covered himself and the files in the digital equivalent of “Made In Russia” labels while claiming to be a Romanian. (Giving cyber-security firms, journalists and others a flimsy veil they could easily pull off and find Russian “fingerprints” behind – not realizing that what they were revealing was a layer of misdirection that would actually prevent them from considering a 3rd possibility!)
So what independent, verifiable evidence is there?
Basically – Nothing showing he was Wikileaks source. Nothing showing he actually hacked into the DNC beyond the fact he had acquired some DNC/DCCC documents. (In fact, there was a fair bit to contradict his claims there thanks to ThreatConnect discrediting his breach claims, showing he was unduly trying to be attributed to the malware discoveries!)
Guccifer2.0 was someone who chose to use a Russian VPN (after choosing to taint documents with Russian language) and was noted to have been in possession of a password for a password-protected area of the DCLeaks site (which, plausibly, he could have been given after promising to upload some of his leaks – DCLeaks were willing to give the same password out to the press in exchange for the promise of writing a story about them!)
Pretty much everything stated about him has been based on assumptions, acceptance of questionable admissions and the public have been given little more than conjecture based on factors he seems to have been controlling and choosing.
Sam Biddle of The Intercept (one of the first people to write about Guccifer2.0 when he emerged) details the problem, in a broader sense, of blaming Russia generally for the hacks in an article released on December 14th 2016, titled: “Here’s the Public Evidence Russia Hacked the DNC — It’s Not Enough“. – It covers the fact that the evidence on Guccifer2.0 looks dodgy but doesn’t try to determine the intent behind his efforts to deceive and claim credit for hacking the DNC (such as this article is attempting to make clear) and instead focuses on the broader scope of allegations about the DNC being hacked.
UPDATE (12 March)
I decided to contact Elite-VPN in relation to the claims made by ThreatConnect and received a response on March 7th. The responses and the annotated image they sent are as follows:
I wrote back asking if it was okay to publish what they had told me. My email to them and their response to it are below:
So… it turns out that if ThreatConnect had tried using the default options – they would have been allocated the “exclusive” IP address that was NEVER really exclusive.
They’ve caused concern and distress unduly for a VPN Service provider by misrepresenting the service and produced false-positive indicators by suggesting the IP address was used by a shady group of Russians/Guccifer2.0 with exclusivity.
Why didn’t someone ask them sooner?
NOTE: While I have uncovered an apparent mistake made by ThreatConnect, I still do respect the research they did and their reporting of facts even when they didn’t necessarily support their conclusions was helpful for my investigation – without their transparency and willingness to share their research openly with the public, my research would have been much tougher, so, despite my criticisms I have to say: Thank you to all at TC for the valuable information you shared with us all. 🙂
(5) Actions, Consequences & Convenience For Anti-Leak Narratives
In total, the amount of new controversies specifically exposed by Guccifer2.0’s actions – was very little.
The documents he posted online were a mixture of some from the public domain (eg. already been published by OpenSecrets.org in 2009), were manipulated copies of research documents originally created by Lauren Dillon (see attachments) and others or were legitimate, unique documents that were of little significant damage to the DNC. (Such as the DCCC documents)
The DCCC documents didn’t reveal anything particularly damaging. It did include a list of fundraisers/bundlers but that wasn’t likely to cause controversy (the fundraising totals, etc. are likely to end up on sites like OpenSecrets, etc within a year anyway). – It did however trigger 4chan to investigate and a correlation was found between the DNC’s best performing bundlers and ambassadorships. – This revelation though, is to be credited to 4chan. – The leaked financial data wasn’t, in itself, damaging – and some of the key data will be disclosed publicly in future anyway.
All of his ‘leaks’ have been over-hyped non-controversies or were already in the public domain – the only exception being the apparent leaking of personal contact numbers and email addresses of 200 Democrats – and really that was more damaging to the reputation of Wikileaks than causing any real problems for Democrats. – Ultimately, it only really served to give the mainstream press the opportunity to announce that “leaked emails include personal details of 200 Democrats”, again, seemingly an effort to undermine other leaks being released at the same time by legitimate leak publishers.
(6) Rushing To Be Russian – The Donkey In A Bear Costume Made A Mistake
“Russia-Tainted Metadata” Reportage Mostly Ignored A Key Piece of Metadata
There is a key fact about some non-Russian metadata that nobody seems to have reported and it certainly seems to be of critical importance – and that is the document creation timestamps…
There were multiple documents shared with TheSmokingGun, Gawker, ArsTechnica and others.
The first document, “1.doc” (mirror), was given considerable coverage, while the name “Warren Flood” was reported, the date in the report (rather than in the metadata) was reported and so it was attributed to Warren Flood on 12/19/15.
Gawker incorrectly claimed the metadata showed the document was created in 2015 when it actually indicated the document was created by Warren Flood at a much later date.
The truth is that the metadata shows the document being created 30 minutes before Guccifer2.0 appears to have gotten his hands on it:
Modified by Феликс Эдмундович on 15th of June at 14:08
The other document, “2.doc” (mirror) was not mentioned so much, but it too had interesting metadata:
Modified by Феликс Эдмундович on 15th of June at 14:11
How did this get missed? – My guess is that people who investigated were using MS-Word. Recent versions of MS-Word tend to show limited metadata from RTF1 format files, for example, MS-Word 2010 shows:
If you open “2.doc” in OpenOffice though, you will spot what first alerted me to the timestamp correlations in the first place:
If you look at the raw data of “1.doc” you can see an ever closer correlation:
UPDATE (18 Feb)
It was pointed out to me that I’d only focused on 2 documents and that there were more released by Guccifer2.0. – He had actually released a set of 5 RTF1-format documents, all had creation/modification dates as 15th of June and another one of them had Flood listed as it’s creator:
|File||Created By||Time||Modified By||Time|
|1.doc||Warren Flood||1:38pm||Феликс Эдмундович||2:08pm|
|2.doc||Warren Flood||1:38pm||Феликс Эдмундович||2:11pm|
|3.doc||Warren Flood||1:38pm||Феликс Эдмундович||2:12pm|
MD5 sums and mirror links are provided below in case the originals are altered or removed in future:
A more detailed look at the actual contents of documents (eg. RSIDs of different changes and correlations across files) gives further clues about the procedures used to intentionally stick “Russian fingerprints” on some of the files.
Who is Warren Flood?
IMPORTANT: Before getting into the details of Warren Flood – please be clear on one critical fact: There is a good chance he’s innocent. – Even if he is involved, it’s an issue for government officials, FBI, etc. to resolve, please do NOT harass Warren Flood because of this report stating that Warren Flood appears to have done something… all we know for certain is that someone used an account with that name.
The corpus/language analyses carried out also show Guccifer 2.0’s communications lack a subtle punctuation flaw that appears to be present in Flood’s writing elsewhere. – So, even if Flood does have any involvement, it’s likely to have been a minor role in the overall Guccifer 2.0 operation (eg. sourcing files) – it does seem that somebody else was taking care of communicating and likely managing the overall operation.
The above statement supercedes and overrides any assertions expressed on this page or anywhere else on this site on the subject of any attribution to Warren Flood.
So… who is Warren Flood? – How did the documents get from Flood apparently creating them to the “hacker” within 30 minutes AND how did that happen when Guccifer2.0 claimed that he had been kicked out of the DNC’s systems as of June 12th according to the conversation he had on the 21st of June with Lorenzo Franceschi-Bicchierai for Motherboard/Vice? (An article in which Guccifer2.0 shows he can easily change the identity of the person who last modified the file)
We can answer the first question by looking at Warren’s linkedin and facebook profiles (these profiles have almost no private or personal character information – we’re only revealing things about his work, experience, professional skill set and his history with DNC, etc.).
How Guccifer2.0 apparently acquired and edited the documents in 30 minutes of them apparently being created by Flood AND at a time that he would later claim was AFTER he had been kicked out of the DNC’s network… is a question that Warren Flood might be able answer – we can only speculate.
From left-to-right: Joe Biden, Alice McAlexander, Warren Flood, Jill Biden.
While Warren’s name may have been relatively unknown to many reading this article, he has worked for Obama for America, the DNC, served as Joe Biden’s technical director and is no stranger to the White House, as his photograph with Joe and Jill Biden (embedded) suggests.
As for the main file (Trump Opposition Research) – it’s basically copied from this file (which is also attached to this leaked email).
It was actually a document originally authored by Lauren Dillon (DNC research director) and modified (and sent to John Podesta) by Tony Carrk (Research Director at Hillary for America).
As it’s clear the original source document was not authored by Flood it seems odd that Flood’s name would be there! – Was he or his company hired to provide technical assistance (possibly to help manage the op)? – While re-opening and saving the documents did record the desired Russian metadata, it only did so in relation to the last modification – maybe in the rush to get the documents out to media he forgot his name was on these as the original creator?
Note: While the paragraph above mentions opening and saving documents, it has now come to light that it was likely to have been a Russian template document used – and that content from original documents was copied and pasted into the template and the results were saved as a new file (a process that appears to be repeated for the first 3 documents due to correlating RSIDs on stylesheets).
UPDATE (1 May)
While considering alternate possibilities for Flood’s name to appear on documents (besides being a perpetrator), I recalled that he had worked as Biden’s technology director at the White House.
Figuring he’d have probably installed MS Office on some computers in the White House, probably in Biden’s offices, I thought I’d check to see who was visiting Biden at the White House on 15 June 2016 close to 1:38pm (the time the first 3 documents were created).
Considering I was looking for those who might want to frame Russia or help with such an effort it’s one hell of a coincidence for me to find 2 meetings (one with a delegation of Ukrainians and another with US architects of the Ukraine coup) coinciding within 30 minutes of the specific time I was interested n.
Having found this, it certainly opens up the possibility that Guccifer 2.0’s first 3 documents may have been created on a computer at the White House that still had a copy of MS-Office registered to Flood.
(7) Corpus & Language Analysis
Several experts and their assessments have been cited, Motherboard (Vice) reference 3 such experts but only one appeared willing to be identified. – Carrying out our own analysis (and highlighting the process), we can see why the others may have chosen anonymity – their assessments seem to be limited and pick up on things that in aggregate, Guccifer rarely actually does.
Guccifer2.0 used a “Russian smiley” (“)))”) ONCE! – This was in one of his first posts. The other thing that made him appear Russian was that he referred to hacks as “deals” a couple of times. – HOWEVER, he ONLY does this in the interview with Motherboard/Vice on the 21st of June – he never repeats this behavior in any other communications – so, it seems it was just put on for the purpose of the interview. – These are the main 2 things pointed out by the anonymous experts and are bizarrely both things he does only in 2 isolated incidents.
Professor M.J. Connolly of the Slavic & Eastern European languages department at Boston University had the most valuable assessment – and could explain the syntactical traits that were missing from Guccifer2.0’s writing.
For our own non-expert analysis, details about differences between Russian/Slavonic Languages & English language can be found here,here and here.
As a brief example, TSG article’s quoted statements from Guccifer are below. Definite and indefinite article use and prepositions are highlighted:
“I stand against Guccifer’s conviction and extradition. I will continue Guccifer’s business and will fight all those illuminati the way I can. They should set him free!!!!”
“Hi. This is Guccifer 2.0 and this is me who hacked Democratic National Committee.”
“Guccifer may have been the first one who penetrated Hillary Clinton’s and other Democrats’ mail servers. But he certainly wasn’t the last. No wonder any other hacker could easily get access to the DNC’s servers.”
“First I breached into mail boxes of a number of Democrats. And then using the info collected I got into Committee servers.”
Compare this to the use of English language expected from someone who is really a Russian, as demonstrated in this screenshot of a video featured in an article by ThreatConnect on 2nd of September 2016. – The difference is stark to say the least!
It’s clear from the above (as well as an analysis of a much larger corpus of Guccifer’s words that I have compiled – see below) that he habitually uses definite articles, even when communicating in a live chat with Lorenzo Franceschi-Bicchierai of Vice’s Motherboard, he rarely fails to include them. – The amount of instances where his definite and indefinite articles are correctly used (when they are used) is around 96%. – In other words, while he mangles English language selectively, he doesn’t do it in a way that is consistent or in the way that is expected from those whose native language is one lacking definite and indefinite articles (such as is true with Russian language).
We never see Guccifer struggle with prepositions either:
He never claimed to hack through a server, or get under security or wait around being detected. His command of prepositions is very strong and he seldom drops the use of them.
AUTHOR’S NOTE: As author of this article, I am not pretending to be an expert. I’m just applying some knowledge from the public domain to a large collection of sample data in a manner that demonstrates various factors that relate to the aspects of English language that Russian’s would typically struggle with.
Guccifer 2 DMs:
Robbin Young | Cassandra Fairbanks | Roger Stone | Anon1 | Lee Stranahan | HelloFLA
NOTE: Guccifer 2 was a “Russian hacker” persona invented and maintained by several members of a US-based organization that technically disguised ‘himself’ as a Russian (and was regarded as a Russian by many duped parties in the cybersecurity industry & USIC) that claimed, in ALL conversations, that he was a Romanian. – Most people that communicated with Guccifer 2 considered him to be Romanian as a result of this.
Ultimately, there was never any intent to ‘collude with Russia’ by any of these people AND there was never any actual collusion (intentional or accidental) with Russia by ANYONE that communicated with Guccifer 2.
There has been a culture of trying to ‘Traitor-shame’ those willing to provide evidence of communications. – This malicious behavior has actually served to inhibit the release of information that could have helped Guccifer 2.0 be identified sooner and has resulted in people being frequently smeared with lies. – Those that have engaged in this are a disgrace and should be ashamed of themselves, no matter who they are, no matter who they work for and no matter how many gullible followers they have managed to undeservingly amass.
(8) Recognizing Intent From Deceptions
When you consider all of these various facts in aggregate and understand that Guccifer2.0 never demonstrated any genuine hacking skills, realize his actions only ever served to undermine leaks, ultimately caused no harm to the reputation of anyone except himself and needlessly and inexplicably gave the mainstream press fodder on which they could write headlines branding leaks as “fake”, “discredited”, “tainted by Russia”, etc., had some non-hacking means of acquiring the DCCC documents and has had his claims of breaching the DNC network debunked by ThreatConnect. – It becomes clear that Guccifer2.0 did more to serve the interests of the DNC than really act maliciously against it.
Anyone critically analysing the nature of Guccifer2.0 can see enough to identify whom he was most likely was or was serving through his activities online. – His lack of credibility and the inevitability of his Clinton Foundation server hack ‘take’ being exposed as nonsense makes it clear that Guccifer2.0 was a fraudulent construct intended to counter the leaks and try to take-down the credibility of Wikileaks as collaterol in the self-destruction of it’s own reputation.
(9) With Motive & Means – Those More Likely Linked to G2 than Russians
It seemed like there was a good chance Warren Flood had involvement at first, however, he doesn’t appear to have been actively working for anyone’s campaign in 2016 and it had been 6 years since he had worked at the White House. His name and the fact it’s on the GSA license could suggest that the dodgy Russian template document was generated on a computer at (or previously from) the White House (from when Flood was Senator Biden’s technology director).
However, Flood himself didn’t appear to be someone (or likely to be working for someone) with a motive to discredit Wikileaks and have Russian hackers blamed (nor the experience to pull off the mimicry and deceptions observed).
Those with a motive mostly strongly correlating with this at the time would have been the Clinton Campaign (to mitigate damage to HRC’s electoral campaign) and the DNC leadership (who also had reputations at stake from the real leaks being published)
As of June 12th, they were in a position where Julian Assange had just announced WikiLeaks’ upcoming release of Clinton’s emails, Clinton was still under FBI investigation, Trump was attacking Clinton for her use of a private server with his supporters frequently chanting “lock her up!” at rallies).
The campaign and the DNC were in a desperate position and really needed something similar to a Russian hacker narrative (something that leaks have since shown the DNC had started building a month or two prior to the hacking claims) and one where they would be fortunate to have a seemingly clumsy hacker that leaves lots of ‘fingerprints’ tainting files and bringing the reputation of leaks into question. – Sure enough, 2-3 days later, Guccifer2.0, the world’s weirdest hacker was spawned and started telling lies in an effort to attribute himself to the malware discoveries & to Wikileaks.
Of course, attribution to the HRC camp or DNC leadership is difficult because what we’ve seen from Guccifer 2.0 suggests an operation carried out by someone with considerable cyber-security and counter-intelligence skills (the misdirection and deception fooled a lot of the cyber-security industry and had multiple intelligence agencies convinced – they knew exactly what they were doing) and while their breach claims were discredited, they still had or had been given access to files.
Who we’re really dealing with requires understanding the full picture (everything outlined above for starters), knowing about CrowdStrike’s activities in April of 2016 (which you’ll find in additional articles provided further down this page), considering the claims they made in an article released on 14 June 2016 and then considering that there is only really one party that could feasibly have pulled of the whole fake Russian hacker persona.
It had to be those who had access to everything and that, thanks to the DNC’s handling of DHS/FBI, were the only party ever allowed to directly assess the alleged crime scene of the DNC’s server.
They also issued specious claims about the “Trump Opposition Research” being targeted (never demonstrated or explained) which, in turn, actually gave the Guccifer 2.0 persona the means of “authenticating” himself to the press the very next day (on which he, of course, appeared and used a deliberately “Russia-tainted” version of the Trump opposition research document to lure the press with).
So, at present, it looks a LOT like Shawn Henry & Dmitri Alperovitch (CrowdStrike executives), working for either the HRC campaign or DNC leadership were very likely to have been behind the Guccifer 2.0 operation.
More analysis is coming soon (it also supports the premise that Guccifer 2.0 was a fake hacker and suggests there was inside access to the DNC network by whoever had compiled one of Guccifer 2.0’s archives, even indiciating a specific time-zone).
If anything else that’s compelling and verifiable emerges (whether or not it supports the conclusions here) – this section will be updated accordingly.
If you have any tips, know of anything significant that’s missing from the timeline at all or want to chat about anything related to Guccifer2.0 feel free to contact me by email (link at top of article).
|The following articles provide you with the links and reference materials needed to independently check and verify the first critical piece of evidence showing that Guccifer 2.0 was an operation that (as its very first objective) created files with fake ‘Russian Fingerprints’ through what was apparently an intentional and methodical procedure:
Isolated RTF/RSID Evidence
The above guides are simply my efforts to explain to others how to check and verify evidence that was actually found by u/tvor_22. The original article he wrote covering it (among other related topics) is linked to here for reference (see image and link to the right of this text).
Russia and Wikileaks: The Case of the Gilded Guccifer
Guccifer 2.0 – The Hack/Leak Contradiction (8 April 2017)
Guccifer 2.0 – DCLeaks – APT 28 (17 April 2017)
CrowdStrike & The DNC’s Phantom Intruder (OPINION) (25 April 2017)
WH Meetings on Ukraine Coincide With Fingerprint Fabrications (29 April 2017)
The Guccifer 2.0 Advisory Sent To Every US Senator (17 May 2017)
The Constant Storm of Controversy & Chaos (31 May 2017)
Guccifer 2.0’s First Five Documents: The Process (31 May 2017)
The Webb of Deceit (7 June 2017)
The Washington Post Article on the DNC Hack – Fact or Fiction? (14 June 2017)
3rd Party Research & Further Reading
This Fancy Bear’s House Is Made of Cards: Russian Fools or Russian Frame-Up
by nyetneynyet aka u/tvor_22
Russia and Wikileaks – The Case of The Gilded Guccifer
by nyetneynyet aka u/tvor_22
Did Russia Really Hack The DNC?
by Gregory Elich
Is Guccifer 2 One Person or Multitude of People
by Steve Cunningham
Cyber-analyst: No evidence to connect Guccifer 2.0 to Russian DNC hack
by Steve Cunningham
The Guccifer 2.0 Chat Hoax | Part 2 | Part 3
by Hannibal Moot
Guccifer 2 and the Podesta Emails
US Govt Data Shows Russia Used Outdated Ukrainian PHP Malware
by Mark Maunder / WordFence
Guccifer 2.0 NGP/VAN Metadata Analysis
by The Forensicator
Frequently Asked Questions
There are questions often asked and various alternate hypotheses offered regarding Guccifer2.0. – I’ll try to cover most of those here.
Couldn’t Warren Flood’s Name Have Been Planted On Purpose?
It’s possible, that can’t be denied. There were other file types released by G2 at later dates that were tampered with, you can tell because names and paths have been blanked out (replaced with spaces).
However, with those first 5 files…
1. No Indiciators of Tampering in Initial Documents
The RTF documents don’t have any indications of direct tampering. The matching creation timestamps on the first 3 documents do at first seem to suggest an anomaly, however, the RSID data actually shows that it is what we should really expect to see on the first 3 documents.
2. It Was Likely To Be The Weakest Point of Operational Security Considering All Factors
G2’s efforts to attribute itself to Wikileaks on significant dates (eg. First appearance, the day Wikileaks released first DNCLeaks batch, the day it dropped the obviously-bogus-CFR-hack archive full of already-released documents, etc) it’s breach methods being repetedly discredited and the consistency of the leaks never hurting Hillary yet managing to generate numerous anti-leaks headlines ahead of the DNCLeaks publications – collectively suggest that the G2 operation’s primary objective was to discredit Wikileaks and the leaks that Assange had mentioned were coming in his 12th June interview.
As such, it seems probable that the operation would have been rushed initially to ensure they got ahead of Wikileaks releasing the emails and, in turn, it would mean the most likely place to find operational security weaknesses would be at the very beginning of the operation. – This is why I looked at the first batch of files before I even started writing any of the words on this page, it’s where I logically expected to see where the operation was likely to be the most vulnerable due to overlooking things in the rush to race against Wikileaks.
3. Would A Foreign Hacker Have Chosen To Use Warren Flood’s Name?
Considering Flood wasn’t known to be active in any campaigns in the last election cycle, wasn’t actually a member of DNC staff and hadn’t been employed directly by Democratic politicians for approximately 6 years (at least according to his social media profiles as of 2017) – Choosing Flood’s name wasn’t likely to provide a plausible, coherent diversion, it seems like a really odd choice for a hacker seeking to cause confusion/misdirection.
It is for these reasons that I suspect Warren Flood’s name being on the initial documents was considerably more likely to have been accidental than deliberate.
4. Have you considered that Russia may have fabricated Russian fingerprints because…?
There are new theories emerging as to why Russia might fabricate fingerprints. The two main ones I’ve seen are as follows:
This is ridiculous. If Russia wanted to provoke they would just release the leaks themselves and the first anyone would hear of it would be via RT. – The whole sticking fingerprints pointing to themselves to provoke on purpose theory – is idiotic
2. Cause Confusion over Attribution with Shoddy Fabrication Effort
This theory starts with a premise that Russians knew they couldn’t escape attribution to APT 28 and so they had to fabricate fingerprints to cause confusion.
This overlooks the fact that we’ve separated Guccifer 2.0 from APT28 (by separating him from DCLeaks) and the fact that CrowdStrike never identified those who targeted the Trump Opposition Research document – and only identified the document when they were ‘clearing out the last of the hackers’ from the DNC’s network.
If Guccifer 2.0’s attribution to APT28 was inevitable then it would be an attribution that still stands strong, we’ve shown that, in reality, that isn’t the case.
Also, if those responsible for rendering the files wanted to leave implausible fingerprints they would have been better off NOT having RSID data that corroborates and even explains why the meta data isn’t as anomalous as it first seems.
Finally, if someone wanted the fabrication to be discovered, it would have been found sooner by one of the many cyber-security researchers, investigators and reporters that already covered Guccifer 2.0 in the 7 months prior to the discovery. It was not a correlation that was at all obvious, it required one to check for matching RSIDs across multiple files (something clearly nobody had thought to do previously) – it was not something that could be detected by looking at an individual file alone.
5. Can’t metadata be manipulated just by downloading and couldn’t it have been manipulated by saving the file at times you haven’t considered?
While downloading the files to your PC will cause the file headers to have the current time/date recorded – these are completely separate from the RTF metadata (which remains untouched and will still have the creation/modification dates in June of 2016). – So the downloading, etc. process and copying/moving the file around in your OS won’t cause the RTF metadata to be altered.
That said, there still ARE circumstances in which the data can be reset, etc. (when opening and saving the file in apps, etc).
We have given a lot of consideration to this too…
To figure out the sort of application behaviors we are likely dealing with – it helps to know what application was likely used to generate and save them. – fortunately, this can be evaluated to some degree because we can see that all 5 RTF files have the following string in them:
You can test using OpenOffice, LibreOffice, WordPad and other apps that can save to the RTF format and check which ones produce the above string and which ones don’t . We can’t entirely rule out the possibility of other apps producing this but of those tested, only MS-Word seemed to leave this in files. (There are other things we can test if it ever turns out other applications have this behavior).
So testing was carried out with a few recent copies of MS-Word to see the various circumstances when the actual RTF metadata changes.
The following was observed:
- Author name
Set on creation, retained when saving and saving-as (people who edit the document subsequently are recorded as ‘operator’ rather than ‘author’.)
- Creation date
Set on creation, CAN BE REFRESHED by someone saving document as a new copy.
- Operator name
(last person who edited) – Set on creation, set when saving.
- Modified date
Set on creation, set when saving.
We have tried to consider various possibilities and even if the creation timestamps are modified on the documents in a way we had not accounted for (eg. due to a Save-As event we perhaps had not considered) – the only difference it really makes is that it changes the time/date on which someone using an account named “Warren Flood” created the initial Russian-tainted template that the first 3 files are all based on.
(This is because the RTF-RSID correlations on the Russian language stylesheets in the first 3 documents allow us to evaluate the chronological order in which they and the actual content became present in each of the files – regardless of the metadata.).
UPDATE (May 13th, 2017): Following some tests on RTF files generated on Mac (h/t Steve Cunningham) and Windows versions of MS Office it seems highly likely the RTF docs produced by Guccifer 2.0 were generated using the Windows version of Microsoft Office.
6. Could Justin Cooper (Clinton aide / CGI spyware installer) be Guccifer 2?
Justin Cooper was known to have installed spyware on machines at the Clinton Global Initiative, an email from Chelsea Clinton in 2011 explains as much.
Justin was also involved in setting up the private mail server that Hillary Clinton had used while she was Sec. of State.
To assume Justin is Guccifer 2 – you’ll have to assume that installing spyware at CGI would have given Justin remote access to everything on the DNC’s mailserver and assume nobody managed to resolve the issue in the 5 years that followed the threat being identified.
Either assumption is a leap of faith with Justin being a Clinton aide that worked on the CGI side of things rather than the DNC/DCCC/etc.
To further diminish the likelihood of this – you can also add the fact Bryan Pagliano took over managing the server shortly after Hillary became Sec. of State (2008) and then another company called “Perfect Privacy” took ownership of the domain in 2014.
It’s very unlikely to be Justin!
7. Isn’t Guccifer 2 really a group of 7 or 8 Ukrainians/Serbians/Romanians?
Maybe Commander X can give more details or a demonstration or explanation of this?! (I’m expecting this questions from those who have listened to a recent interview Commander X did with Susan Lindauer)
The corpus suggests G2 is someone who speaks English as their first language and merely feigns sloppiness, while this doesn’t really fit the theory here – it is at least more conceivable that G2 would be Romanian/Serbian due to closer similarities between English language and their languages than it is likely to be a Russian (solely from linguistics analysis).
The intent demonstrated in the framing effort shows it was an operation motivated to discredit Wikileaks and damage the reputation of leaks (which as far as I can tell, only the Clinton campaign had any desperate need to do at the time!).
I’m unaware of anything that would have suddenly given Ukrainians, Serbians or Romanians motive to discredit leaks at that time – I’m not ruling out the possibility but I struggle to find any correlations to support the premise..
I think maybe I’m lacking some of the information that Commander X is using so have had difficulty ascertaining exactly what Russian arrests, etc. the hypothesis is based on..
If Commander X has something to demonstrate or reference to explain intent/motivations/etc or evidence of some kind to support this theory (or any other information), please let me know and I’ll update this article to cover it.
8. Have you considered Guccifer 2 may be a female?
Yes, I’ve considered most possibilities but there’s nothing I’ve seen to actually suggest that G2 was female. Roger Stone referring to G2 as “her” once accidentally, in a sentence in a recent interview – is really nothing.
Even putting aside what we already know, start off with the simple statistical likelihood. – Black-hat male to female ratio is somewhere between 20:1 and 100:1. -What substantive indicators are there that Guccifer 2 was a female?
If we don’t cherry-pick and instead treat everything Roger Stone says in interview as being significant, we can see he has said “he”, “him” or “his” in reference to Guccifer 2 at least 20 times in the last month.
Using either, if we don’t cherry pick it still looks like there’s at least a 20:1 ratio. – To automatically assume Guccifer 2 must be of the gender that has a 5% (or less) likelihood due to Roger Stone ushering a single word once in one interview – is bizarre – yet it seems there’s been a push on social media to claim that it’s proof of Guccifer 2 being female.
Then there’s the other factor – Guccifer 2 stated, in conversation with Robbin Young – that an erotic poem was making him ‘hard’. – This in itself is a strong indicator that the Guccifer 2.0 persona is a male – at least in the minds of those who invented Guccifer 2.0.
9. Couldn’t Guccifer 2 just have been a disgruntled Sanders supporter?
Guccifer 2’s first action, contrary to his stated intent – was a clear effort to undermine the reputation of leaks by having them blatantly ‘tainted’ with a Russian name and stylesheet (overlooking the fact that the RTF data stream records clues about each document’s construction besides timestamps, etc).
Considering WHAT Guccifer 2 actually was and was clearly trying to achieve, it means neither Sanders nor Trump supporters would have had a motive to actually act in the way Guccifer 2 did.
At the time (15 June), many Sanders supporters were happy to wait for Assange to deliver on the promise of Clinton related leaks that he’d given on the 12th.
Nobody opposing Hillary, immediately following news of upcoming leaks – would try to release dodgy leaks AND try attributing them to Wikileaks… those were tactics only one campaign had any need for.
(For those that don’t know why this was even suggested – it’s because Guccifer 2.0, as part of his misdirection – was willing to hint at allegiance with Hillary’s current opponent at the time! – Initially, after his emergence and during the primary, he was seeking to attribute his activities to Sanders and would inquire with reporters about the DNC lawsuit, express sympathy for Bernie and berate the rigged process, etc.) – Then once Bernie was out of the way, Guccifer 2.0 switched – and – as many already know, he was willing to openly express admiration for Trump supporters and in one interview with the BBC he oddly blurted out something about making “America Great again”.
This chicanery had many reporters convinced that Guccifer 2.0 sided with Hillary’s opponents (and his actions show he actually did little to harm Hillary, if he was really a source for Wikileaks, as he claimed, he would have had more damaging material to publish at that time and would have been able to at least give some foresight as to what revelations would be coming from Wikileaks – but he didn’t) – many listened to his words but didn’t scrutinize his actions closely and the classic addage: “Actions Speak Louder Than Words” could never be more applicable to a hacker investigation than they have been in the case of Guccifer 2.
10. If G2 Was Working For Clinton Campaign Why Did He Hurt the DNC/Clinton?
He did very little to hurt the DNC and practically nothing to hurt Hillary’s campaign (despite his vociferous opposition to her in word, he did little to oppose her in deed).
He did release some exclusive content but it was mostly inconsequential and largely to establish media and public trust. – There were fundraising totals that will likely end up on OpenSecrets and other sites due to records requests, outdated low-security shared-access passwords, outdated contact information of donors and lots of dull content that sapped public interest in the leaks. – The TARP-related documents were old and the only controversy they covered was one already exposed by OpenSecrets 8 years ago. – Even the ambassadorships wasn’t intentional. – It’s only because sleuths on 4chan cross referenced a list of ambassadorships with the list of big fund-raisers that it even became a controversy.
And so… before Wikileaks had even released the first email, G2 had gained notoriety, the Clinton objection handling talking points were being framed as a ‘dossier’ and in some cases ‘opposition research’ (when it was in fact the exact opposite – talking points to counter Clinton criticisms), the narrative of Russian hackers had been created (as we now know – very intentionally and very falsely!) and justification for claiming the leaks were “probably doctored” had been seeded. Headline’s already included:
“DNC Hacker Dumps Trove of Clinton Documents”
“‘Guccifer 2.0’ Claims Responsibility for DNC Hack”
“Hillary Clinton ‘dossier’ released by hacker Guccifer 2.0”
“Contrary to DNC Claim, Hacked Data Contains a Ton of Personal Donor Information”
“Will Hillary Survive Barrage of Email Leaks From Russia and WikiLeaks?”
and when Wikileaks finally did release the emails, we had outright false attribution from authors like Bluestone @ Gawker, with gems such as:
“Russia (via Wikileaks) Releases 20,000 Hacked DNC Emails Just in Time For the Convention”
This was accompanied by a choir of MSM entities admonishing Wikileaks in unison over the apparent release of donor SSNs/credit card numbers. – For every headline covering the media-collusion and primary rigging, there were 10 angrily berating Wikileaks.
Before Wikileaks even had chance to respond to the criticism… the next act of G2 was to throw fuel on the fire of criticism already scorching Wikileaks by releasing personal information for the sake of generating even more negative headlines and admonishment of leaks…
“Personal Information of Nearly 200 Democrats Leaked in Latest Hack”
“New leak releases personal data of 200 Democrats”
“DNC Hacker Leaks Personal Info Of Nearly 200 Congressional Democrats”
“Democrats hacked again! New leak releases personal data of 200 party leaders”
Guccifer 2.0 successfully maligned the reputation of leaks in various ways before Wikileaks even started releasing emails and persisted even at the time of release. – The consistent negative outcomes from his actions was one of the earliest clues suggesting his stated intent and actual intent were likely to differ, the near-zero impact on Clinton from his leaks was another hint.
This depends on who you ask. – If you ask those who listen to Louise Mensch, it’s someone working for Putin. – If you look at the evidence, it’s someone trying to frame Russia or have leaks attributed to Russia and the person who initiatially handled the pre-tainted template file that Guccifer 2’s first documents were based on – appears to have used a user account in the name of “Warren Flood”.
So… It’s Warren Flood?
Not necessarily but there’s a possibility of him being involved and knowledgeable of the scheme. – The overall misdirection effort, to me, seems very professional (let’s face it, it fooled most of America for at least 9 months) and I don’t think Warren will have had the full skill set for all of it. (If anything, I suspect his job was to acquire and taint files initially but suspect that others were involved, especially with regards to communications).
Looking at the statements of CrowdStrike from the 14th of June and how it correlates in one regard to Guccifer 2’s activities the next day but also (a) contradicts it due to Guccifer 2 having more files than they stated had been taken and (b) it seems odd they’d detect an intrusion because of an access attempt to a Trump opposition research file and not at a litany of other, far more typical detection points (identifying hostiles as soon as they hit the TCP/IP stack, identifying malicious packets, identifying brute/wordlist password cracking attempts, identifying CPU spikes and activity of specific processes, etc.).. that I have recently been wondering exactly what CS were doing back at the DNC suddenly after Assange’s announcement, wondering whether they submitted evidence to any intelligence agencies to support their detection claims – and wondering if they may be outright complicit in the Guccifer 2 operation. – Certainly, Alperovitch and Henry would have had the skills and experience needed to spearhead such an operation and the opacity with which they’ve operated in comparison to firms like ThreatConnect (who have been very transparent and accountable in their work) doesn’t make them seem as credible to me as when I first started investigating this back in January.
Either way, regardless of attrbution of the actors/operators – what is fairly clearly is that the intent demonstrated by the consistent outcomes of Guccifer 2’s actions falls perfectly in line with the motives of the Clinton campaign at that precise moment in time. – So, ultimately, it was an entity, probably consisting of a few individuals, that, judging on the merit of it’s actions (contrary to it’s stated intent/desires/goals/etc) – was really working to serve the Clinton campaign’s agenda.
12. Why should I believe you over MSM/DNC/ODNI/DHS/CIA/FBI/etc?
Ideally, I don’t want you to have to believe anyone – you don’t really need to believe anything to know that the FSB/GRU/Russian-State/etc attribution is highly likely to be phony.
This is why the “Evidence of Intent” series of documents exists in isolation to the main article. – It’s so that you can check and verify the evidence that u/tvor_22 discovered for yourself by using the primary source (Guccifer 2’s blog) and Microsoft’s RTF document specification as a reference… so you can check and verify the evidence using primary source and reputable sources for reference materials… rather than have to rely on my words.
I’ve tried to provide the tools for people to be able to do more than believe in something.
13. You’re working for Putin! – You’re a #TrumpZombie!
No. – I’m just an independent, investigative ‘citizen journalist’ from the UK that has no loyalty to any political parties in the US.
If you have loyalty to the Democratic party leadership and my research offends you, I’m sorry about that – I just hope you will at least try to check and verify what I’ve reported on and can recognize that I’m not trying to engage in partisan smears or spin.
The evidence is what it is, it’s not fabricated, there’s no tin foil hats here, no agenda to insult and undermine your party (or any other party)… I’m just reporting honestly on what has been found and is now being reported by multiple researchers.
Over the last 3 months, the research has:
- Shown that information about Guccifer 2.0 was misreported throughout 2016
- Exposed a cyber security firm’s mistakes in their assessments regarding Guccifer 2’s use of a Russia-based VPN. (Despite this and our differing conclusions, I have still been very impressed with ThreatConnect’s investigation methodology and reporting – I remain grateful for their transparency and willingness to share their discoveries openly with the public and would recommend them to any firm wanting to track down malicious activity – the G2 case was extraordinary though – it caught everyone out.)
- Revealed that there was no attempt to even contact the parties about which false assumptions were being made (and accepted at face value by DHS/ODNI)
- Focused on Guccifer2’s actions and consequences of actions rather than his often-misleading statements and claims (many of which are now discredited) to recongize his true motive (which is now supported by solid evidence).
- Demonstrated that what we were told about Guccifer 2 and by Guccifer 2 – was misinformation arising from a masterful (but imperfect) campaign of misdirection.
- Shown a closer correlation between Guccifer 2 and Biden’s former technical director than was ever previously thought to exist.
- Revealed an intentional effort to discredit leaks and pin blame on Russians.