As US Government Traces Hacks to Putin, Russia Cracks Down on Hackers at Home

Russian hackers could face up to 10 years in prison, even as their president is alleged to have been behind hacks.

Kremlin Pool/Zuma

Fight disinformation: Sign up for the free Mother Jones Daily newsletter and follow the news that matters.


As the leaks from US security agencies continue to mount, so does the evidence that the government is increasingly certain that hacks of political communications during the presidential election can be traced to the highest levels of the Russian government—including President Vladimir Putin.

The latest leak, reported Wednesday night by NBC News, alleges that Putin was personally involved in directing Russia-connected hackers on how to use the hacked material. The Russian government has consistently denied the accusations. In response to the latest allegations, a Russian government official in Moscow told NBC’s Richard Engel that Western media “have gone beyond the reach of reason.”

The NBC report comes on the heels of a New York Times report laying out the most detail to date on how the hack of the Democratic National Committee unfolded and an earlier Washington Post story reporting that the CIA had concluded that the Russian government was trying to help Donald Trump win the election.

At the same time that the Russian government has denied hacking the DNC and trying to sway the US election, senior Russian government officials are seeking to increase punishments for hackers caught attempting to attack Russian infrastructure.

A bill was introduced into the lower house of the Russian legislature on December 6 that would amend the country’s criminal code to increase penalties for people tied to hacking. The measure, reported last week by the Hacker News, would punish those caught creating and distributing “programs or information” that could be used to destroy, block, or copy data from Russian computer systems with fines between 500,000 and 1 million rubles (roughly $8,000 to $16,000) and up to five years in prison, even if the creator of the software isn’t personally involved in any hacks. People found to have been part of a serious hacking operation would be subject to up to 10 years in prison under the new law. Hackers who get their hands on privileged information are subject to fines of up to 2 million rubles ($32,300) and six years in prison.

The bill was proposed by Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev after Putin recently “signed an updated doctrine on Russia’s information security,” according to the Hacker News report. Russian media outlet Lenta reported that Putin’s new doctrine on Russia’s information security is part of the country’s desire to avoid international conflict in cyberspace. The doctrine claims that there has been an increase in foreign media reports “containing a biased assessment of the Russian Federation’s state policies.”

TIME IS RUNNING OUT!

We have an ambitious $350,000 online fundraising goal this month and it's truly crunch time: About 15 percent of our yearly online giving usually comes in during the final week of the year, and in "No Cute Headlines or Manipulative BS," we explain why we simply can't afford to come up short right now.

The bottom line: Corporations and powerful people with deep pockets will never sustain the type of journalism Mother Jones exists to do. And advertising or profit-driven ownership groups will never make time-intensive, in-depth reporting viable.

That's why donations big and small make up 74 percent of our budget this year. There is no backup to keep us going, no alternate revenue source, no secret benefactor. If readers don’t donate, we won’t be here. It's that simple.

And if you can help us out with a donation right now, all online gifts will be matched thanks to an incredibly generous matching gift pledge.

payment methods

TIME IS RUNNING OUT!

We have an ambitious $350,000 online fundraising goal this month and it's truly crunch time: About 15 percent of our yearly online giving usually comes in during the final week of the year, and in "No Cute Headlines or Manipulative BS," we explain why we simply can't afford to come up short right now.

The bottom line: Corporations and powerful people with deep pockets will never sustain the type of journalism Mother Jones exists to do. And advertising or profit-driven ownership groups will never make time-intensive, in-depth reporting viable.

That's why donations big and small make up 74 percent of our budget this year. There is no backup to keep us going, no alternate revenue source, no secret benefactor. If readers don’t donate, we won’t be here. It's that simple.

And if you can help us out with a donation right now, all online gifts will be matched thanks to an incredibly generous matching gift pledge.

payment methods

We Recommend

Latest

Sign up for our free newsletter

Subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily to have our top stories delivered directly to your inbox.

Get our award-winning magazine

Save big on a full year of investigations, ideas, and insights.

Subscribe

Support our journalism

Help Mother Jones' reporters dig deep with a tax-deductible donation.

Donate