The much-anticipated Mueller Report on interference in the 2016 US Presidential Election claims that Russian intelligence used Bitcoin to secure computer infrastructure for hacking purposes.

The ‘Report On The Investigation Into Russian Interference In The 2016 Presidential Election’ suggested that there is evidence that Russia attempted to smooth the path for Donald Trump by using hacking to target Hilary Clinton’s campaign for the presidency, although no collusion by the current president was proven. The report stated:

“…cyber intrusions (hacking) and releases of hacked materials [were] damaging to the Clinton Campaign,” adding “The Russian intelligence service known as the Main Intelligence Directorate of the General Staff of the Russian Army (GRU) carried out these operations.”

The report accuses the GRU of hacking into computer hardware used by Democratic National Committee (DNC) and the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC), leading to email leaks damaging to Clinton’s campaign. One of two military units of the GRU allegedly ran “a bitcoin mining operation to secure bitcoins used to purchase computer infrastructure used in hacking operations“, according to details in the report.

The report indicates that a Russian IT unit stored the Bitcoins on UK cryptocurrency cloud mining service and exchange CEX.io and used mined Bitcoins to purchase the domain name “dcleaks.com” on April 19, 2016. The Russian agents were successful in bypassing the UK based exchange’s strict strict KYC/AML policy, common to all cryptocurrency exchanges.

In January 2018 U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin suggested that such activity was a concern commenting at the time that cryptocurrency agencies, not unlike conventional banking, had tight KYC regulations. Clearly, this is an area that will come under scrutiny following the Mueller report revelations.

 

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