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Russian military hackers late last year infiltrated Burisma Holdings, the Ukrainian energy company where Hunter Biden, Joe Biden's son, was previously a board member, according to a report from cybersecurity firm Area 1. The operation began in early November, as a congressional impeachment inquiry into President Donald Trump was underway.


That inquiry examined whether President Trump abused his office by pressuring Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to announce an investigation into Burisma and the Bidens.

The hacking campaign was carried out by the Russian intelligence agency GRU, according to Area 1, the Silicon Valley-based company that discovered the breach. It is unclear what kinds of materials the hackers accessed.

"Our report is not noteworthy because we identify the GRU launching a phishing campaign, nor is the targeting of a Ukrainian company particularly novel," the report says. "It is significant because Burisma Holdings is publically [sic] entangled in U.S. foreign and domestic politics."

U.S. intelligence officials concluded that Russian hackers linked to GRU were responsible for hacking the email servers of the Democratic National Committee during the 2016 election. The emails were eventually disseminated through DCLeaks and WikiLeaks and amplified by a network of bot accounts on social media.

Intelligence agencies later concluded that the hack was designed to boost the election chances of Donald Trump and damage those of Hillary Clinton.

"The timing of the GRU's campaign in relation to the 2020 U.S. elections raises the spectre that this is an early warning of what we have anticipated since the successful cyberattacks undertaken during the 2016 U.S. elections," the Area 1 report said.

No evidence has emerged that Hunter or Joe Biden broke any U.S. or Ukrainian laws in relation to Hunter's tenure on the Burisma board.

"Donald Trump tried to coerce Ukraine into lying about Joe Biden and a major bipartisan, international anti-corruption victory because he recognized that he can't beat the Vice President. Now we know that Vladimir Putin also sees Joe Biden as a threat," the Biden campaign's rapid response director Andrew Bates told CBS News. "Any American president who had not repeatedly encouraged foreign interventions of this kind would immediately condemn this attack on the sovereignty of our elections."

Area 1 also said the phishing campaign was connected to another one targeting a media organization founded by Zelensky.

Burisma Holdings did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

First published on January 13, 2020 / 11:17 PM

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