Connect with us

Hi, what are you looking for?

SecurityWeekSecurityWeek

Privacy

Cambridge Analytica Shared Data With Russia: Whistleblower

Political consulting group Cambridge Analytica used Russian researchers and shared data with companies linked to Russian intelligence, a whistleblower told a congressional hearing on interference in the 2016 US election Wednesday.

Political consulting group Cambridge Analytica used Russian researchers and shared data with companies linked to Russian intelligence, a whistleblower told a congressional hearing on interference in the 2016 US election Wednesday.

Christopher Wylie, who leaked information on the British-based firm’s hijacking of data on millions of Facebook users, told a Senate panel he believes Russian intelligence services had access to data harvested by the consultancy.

Wylie told the panel that Russian-American researcher Aleksandr Kogan, who created an application to harvest Facebook user profile data, was working at the same time on Russian-funded projects, including “behavioral research.”

“This means that in addition to Facebook data being accessed in Russia, there are reasonable grounds to suspect that CA may have been an intelligence target of Russian security services…(and) that Russian security services may have been notified of the existence of CA’s Facebook data,” Wylie said in his written testimony.

Wylie added that Cambridge Analytica “used Russian researchers to gather its data, (and) openly shared information on ‘rumor campaigns’ and ‘attitudinal inoculation’” with companies and executives linked to the Russian intelligence agency FSB.

The hearing is part of a broad inquiry on both sides of the Atlantic over the misuse of Facebook data by the consulting firm working on Donald Trump’s 2016 campaign.

Facebook has accused Cambridge Analytica of misappropriating its user data by violating terms of the data agreement with Kogan, the academic researcher.

On Tuesday, the New York Times reported that the FBI and Justice are investigating Cambridge Analytica for potential criminal violations.

Advertisement. Scroll to continue reading.

The Times said it was unclear whether the probe was linked to the one led by Special Counsel Robert Mueller, who is investigating whether the Trump campaign colluded with Russia.

‘Black ops’ at CA

Wylie told the panel that “the ethos of the firm was ‘anything goes’” for its political campaigns, including “attempting to divert health ministry funds in a struggling African country to support a politician’s re-election campaign.”

He added that he was aware of “black ops” at the company, “which I understood to include using hackers to break into computer systems to acquire kompromat or other intelligence for its clients.”

He said that one of the tactics used to interfere with voter participation included “weaponizing fear.”

“In one country, CA produced videos intended to suppress turnout by showing voters sadistic images of victims being burned alive, undergoing forced amputations with machetes and having their throats cut in a ditch,” he said.

“These videos also conveyed Islamophobic messages. It was created with a clear intent to intimidate certain communities, catalyze religious hatred, portray Muslims as terrorists and deny certain voters of their democratic rights.”

Cambridge Analytica announced earlier this month it was shutting down, unable to recover from the Facebook-linked scandal.

Its chief executive Alexander Nix was suspended after he was filmed by undercover reporters bragging about ways to win political campaigns, including through blackmail and honey traps.

Another whistleblower said that Britons’ personal data may have been misused by a pro-Brexit campaign ahead of the 2016 referendum in which Britain voted to leave the European Union.

Written By

AFP 2023

Click to comment

Trending

Daily Briefing Newsletter

Subscribe to the SecurityWeek Email Briefing to stay informed on the latest threats, trends, and technology, along with insightful columns from industry experts.

Join the session as we discuss the challenges and best practices for cybersecurity leaders managing cloud identities.

Register

SecurityWeek’s Ransomware Resilience and Recovery Summit helps businesses to plan, prepare, and recover from a ransomware incident.

Register

People on the Move

Professional services company Slalom has appointed Christopher Burger as its first CISO.

Allied Universal announced that Deanna Steele has joined the company as CIO for North America.

Former DoD CISO Jack Wilmer has been named CEO of defensive and offensive cyber solutions provider SIXGEN.

More People On The Move

Expert Insights

Related Content

Artificial Intelligence

Two of humanity’s greatest drivers, greed and curiosity, will push AI development forward. Our only hope is that we can control it.

Cybersecurity Funding

Los Gatos, Calif-based data protection and privacy firm Titaniam has raised $6 million seed funding from Refinery Ventures, with participation from Fusion Fund, Shasta...

Privacy

Many in the United States see TikTok, the highly popular video-sharing app owned by Beijing-based ByteDance, as a threat to national security.The following is...

Privacy

Employees of Chinese tech giant ByteDance improperly accessed data from social media platform TikTok to track journalists in a bid to identify the source...

Application Security

Open banking can be described as a perfect storm for cybersecurity. At one end, small startups with financial acumen but little or no security...

Government

The proposed UK Online Safety Bill is the enactment of two long held government desires: the removal of harmful internet content, and visibility into...

Mobile & Wireless

As smartphone manufacturers are improving the ear speakers in their devices, it can become easier for malicious actors to leverage a particular side-channel for...

Cloud Security

AWS has announced that server-side encryption (SSE-S3) is now enabled by default for all Simple Storage Service (S3) buckets.