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Treason or state change: what is known about FSB officers accused of hacking 

The deputy head of one of the departments of the FSB is accused of being involved in hackers, trying to create an analogue of the NSA in Russia, draining the correspondence of federal officials and high treason. Official details of the charges are unknown, but among the versions of the high-profile case is the redistribution of the spheres of influence of the security forces, the money issue and the personal revenge of a major official.

The main building of the FSB in Lubyanka

Loud arrest

On January 25, 2017, Kommersant , citing its own sources, said that the top manager of Kaspersky Lab, Ruslan Stoyanov, who heads the company’s cybercrime investigation department, working closely with law enforcement agencies, was arrested in the case of state change. His arrest was tied to an investigation into one of the deputy heads of the Information Security Center (CIB) of the FSB, Sergei Mikhailov.

Mikhailov, according to sources of the publication, was arrested in December 2016 on suspicion of treason. The security official allegedly received money from one of the foreign organizations through the mediation of an employee of a certain Russian company in the field of information security (presumably, Stoyanov). The fact that Mikhailov could get the money was not specified, but US intelligence officers were named as beneficiaries on January 26 .

Publication interlocutors familiar with Mikhailov stated that this person is, in fact, one of the key employees of the Federal Security Service Center who “oversees the entire Internet business in the country” and largely “informally determines the policy of the entire cyber security and Internet commerce industry .

Also, the publication’s interlocutors noted that the arrest and the current situation in the CIB “are at risk of affecting the cybersecurity and e-commerce markets, the participants of which may have to rebuild relations with the state.”

What is known Mikhailov

Sergey Mikhailov

Mikhailov, an officer of the TsIB of the FSB, was mentioned several times in the media in connection with various scandals.

In 2011, the founder of the site, Yuri Synodov, said that in 2007 he received a request from Mikhailov demanding to disclose the data of one of the site users who wrote about the internal conflict of the top managers of the Odnoklassniki social network.

In 2011, the Synods received a similar request, also signed by Mikhailov from [email protected] The head of complained about the unlawful actions of the FSB officers to the General Prosecutor’s Office, where he was confirmed that the “security guards” had violated the law “On operational investigative activities”. The management of the CIB was pointed out that such violations were unacceptable.

Also in 2013, Mikhailov acted as a witness at the trial in the case of the Chronopay company of the entrepreneur Pavel Vrublevsky. The businessman was accused of organizing a DDoS attack on the Assist payment system in 2010, because of which it was impossible to pay for e-tickets on the Aeroflot website for a week.

The department of Mikhailov at that time just opened the DDoS-attack case in which Vrublevsky was accused. At the same time, the FSB officer and the head of Chronopay, according to Mikhailov himself, were intimately familiar, both personally and professionally.

[perfectpullquote align=”full” bordertop=”false” cite=”” link=”” color=”” class=”” size=””]The Chronopay company was of interest to us, and Wroblewski was a clever and respected person who could rally around himself “hackers.” By them we mean both good and bad people.[/perfectpullquote]
from Sergey Mikhailov’s explanation in court in the case of a DDoS attack on the Assist payment system

Vrublevsky at the court first stated that Mikhailov had slandered him because of personal differences, but then he refused his testimony.

After the scandals listed above, Mikhailov was no longer appearing in media publications until the information about his arrest.

Orthodox plums

On January 25, 2017, the Tsargrad TV channel, owned by oligarch Konstantin Malofeev, published information that Mikhailov’s FSB officer Mikhailov, who was suspected of treason, was related to the Hackty Dumpty hacker group. She is known for the plums of postal correspondence of Russian statesmen and media magnates.

The victims of hackers were Dmitry Medvedev, the head of the government, and Natalia Timakova , her press secretary , Aram Gabrelyanov, head of the News Media holding .

Public people blamed the Humpty Dumpty group, also known as Anonymous Internationale, for extortion. At the same time, people who appear to be participants in the hacker association, claimed that they were not politically biased, but simply tried to convey to the masses the wrong side of certain political events, acting as ordinary citizens who have the right to know about the “mirror” of Russian politics.

The TV channel “Tsargrad” in its material connects the activities of “Shaltay” with the CIA, which is completely in tune with Mikhailov’s accusations of treason at the level of conspiracy.

Sberbank and Big Data

According to the same “Tsargrad”, Mikhailov allegedly led negotiations with the management of Sberbank, which has one of the largest information security services in Russia. According to the channel, using the Sberbank database, Mikhailov was going to create a system that could follow the majority of Russian citizens.

[perfectpullquote align=”full” bordertop=”false” cite=”” link=”” color=”” class=”” size=””]It was proposed not only to increase security, but to create a virtually new Internet secret service, similar to the NSA of the USA, which keeps all Americans under the hood.[/perfectpullquote] [perfectpullquote align=”full” bordertop=”false” cite=”” link=”” color=”” class=”” size=””]Recall that it is enough to combine the Sberbank base and data sets about the same people in social networks in order to have one of the largest data sets for Russian citizens on hand.[/perfectpullquote] [perfectpullquote align=”full” bordertop=”false” cite=”” link=”” color=”” class=”” size=””]German Gref, chairman of the board of the largest bank in Russia, could not but be aware of such a plan. If Mikhailov’s arrest had not taken place, he would have already come under the direct control of Gref. A person who is said to enter the Western globalist circles and stubbornly refuses to open the office of a bank entrusted to him in the management of the Russian Crimea.[/perfectpullquote]
from the “Constantinople” material

In his analyst, “Tsargrad” concludes that Mikhailov was arrested because of too big ambitions, citing as an example the election campaign of Donald Trump, who allegedly was able to achieve victory with the help of “Big Data”. Mikhailov, in the opinion of the TV channel, could have influenced citizens’ political preferences by gaining access to the Sberbank base.

New player

On January 27, it became known that, in addition to Mikhailov, in December 2016, another FSB officer was arrested on charges of state treason – a senior security officer of the second division of the operational management of the Information Security Center Major Dmitry Dokuchaev.

It is known about Dokuchaev that back in 2011, being in the rank of lieutenant general, under the Forb nickname, he led the section “Hacking” in the magazine “Hacker”.

According to Novaya Gazeta, in IT circles, the future operative gained fame after hacking several serious sites, including American ones. Then they paid attention to him in the CIB FSB, inviting him to work.

In 2004, as a fourth-year student, Dokuchaev gave an interview to the Vedomosti newspaper, in which he said that he was engaged in hacking sites to order, and hinted that this could be related to the theft of money from credit cards.

Dmitry Dokuchaev (Forb), left

In September 2016, the FBI accused the owner of the Russian company King Servers, Vladimir Fomenko, in cyber attack on electoral systems in the US states of Arizona and Illinois. At the same time, the publication stated that King Servers had rented part of the servers from the already mentioned Chronopay company, although King Servers denied this information , stating that they had their own servers. The company also stated that the arrest of FSB officers was in no way connected with their activities.

Article Dokuchaev from the magazine "Hacker"
Article Dokuchaev from the magazine “Hacker”

According to Novaya Gazeta, after the FBI statement, the FSB’s own security service took under the supervision of Mikhailova and Dokuchaev. According to the publication, the security guards about cyber attacks on the United States could not figure out anything. But they realized that the operatives could be involved in the hacker group “Humpty Dumpty”: Mikhailov allegedly was its curator, and Dokuchaev hacked mail and accounts of politicians and businessmen in social networks directly. On the website and on Twitter of“Anonymous International” the latest entries are dated just as the approximate time of the arrest of the FSB men — the end of November – the beginning of December 2016.

Who benefits

Journalists and their sources disagree about who might benefit from the arrest of a high-ranking FSB officer Mikhailov and his subordinate Dokuchaev.

Alexander Plyushchev , a journalist with Ekho Moskvy, suggested that the version of the Tsargrad TV channel with an NSA counterpart is not believable, and the media owner simply pursues his personal goals.

The journalist “Echo” recalled that the head of the channel and the entire holding Malofeev was a conductor of the idea of ​​the “Great Russian Firewall”, and was also behind the government organization “ League of the Safe Internet ”.

Kommersant reported on January 13, citing its sources , that Mikhailov’s arrest could lead to the resignation of Andrei Gerasimov, head of the Federal Security Service Bureau of the Federal Security Service, who holds the post of deputy head of the First Federal Security Service specializing in counterintelligence. Gerasimov, according to the publication, is also a member of the board of trustees of the Safe Internet League.

The interlocutors of the RBC publication said that the conflict around Mikhailov could be connected with the redistribution of spheres of influence within the departments of the FSB, whose interests overlap. This version was tried to be refuted by other sources of the publication, stating that the department could solve internal problems “surgically” by personnel changes. Mikhailov himself in the commentary to the publication also stated that he did not believe the version that the FSB had led to internal prosecutions for his criminal prosecution.

The version with the redistribution of power within the FSB was also confirmed by the source of Rosbalt , who was familiar with Mikhailov. He also confirmed the involvement of the security forces in the “Anonymous International.”

[perfectpullquote align=”full” bordertop=”false” cite=”” link=”” color=”” class=”” size=””]There was a certain confrontation between the various forces in the special services. The winner was the CIB, “Shaltay Dumpty” got new curators, everything changed there. However, the victory was temporary. Now the staff of the CIB, including the “winner” Mikhailov, are sent to the SIZO one by one. It’s a pity. Mikhailov is really an excellent specialist, one of the best in his business.[/perfectpullquote]
interlocutor “Rosbalt”

According to Rosbalt, the FSB officers were indeed arrested for transferring to some third parties some information posing a threat to Russia. However, with the activities of “Anonymous International” connection in this case is missing or not disclosed. According to the publication’s interlocutor, the detainees have already confessed, although they do not agree with the charge of treason.

In the Kremlin , they refused to comment on the arrest of FSB officers , stating that the incident was not in their jurisdiction.

The author of the anonymous Telegram channel, Nezagar, suggested that the arrests of FSB officers could be directed against the head of Sberbank German Gref and the former head of the presidential administration, Sergei Ivanov. According to Nezygar, the operation is aimed at clearing their people in counterintelligence. True, for what reason they decided to influence high-ranking persons, the author of the channel does not specify.

Another version related to arrests speaks about the money issue. Ostensibly, the FSB officers decided to redistribute the information security market. This opinion was expressed by the opposition member of the Anti-Corruption Foundation, Leonid Volkov.

FSB Major General in reserve Alexander Mikhailov in an interview with the portal ” Events ” said that the internal conflict of security officials in this story is unlikely to occur. According to him, any conflicts in the FSB are resolved without such high-profile arrests, just personnel changes. Sergei Mikhailov, according to him, could simply go against the system, preoccupied with obtaining his own benefit, and was arrested because of this.

Political analyst Eduard Koridorov, in an interview with Federal Press , tried to assure that information about the involvement of FSB officers in the Humpty Dumpty group was deliberately thrown in, and the version with pressure on Ivanov was considered untenable.

[perfectpullquote align=”full” bordertop=”false” cite=”” link=”” color=”” class=”” size=””]It is obvious that the Telegram channels, having thrown in a version about the connection of a high-ranking former FSB Schnick with the hacker group “Humpty Dumpty”, did it in someone’s interests.[/perfectpullquote] [perfectpullquote align=”full” bordertop=”false” cite=”” link=”” color=”” class=”” size=””]Sergey Ivanov as a victim of informational sabotage? This, too, is hard to believe. Today, though he is a person close to Putin, he is no longer in key positions.[/perfectpullquote] [perfectpullquote align=”full” bordertop=”false” cite=”” link=”” color=”” class=”” size=””]In my opinion, the only understandable explanation of the nature of stuffing through the Telegram is the interest of individual security forces. Yes, in general, the very activity of these highly informed channels would be impossible without the loyalty of the special services.[/perfectpullquote]
Edward Koridorov, member of the political technologies committee of RASO

A RBC source close to the Kremlin said that there could be one of the federal officials behind the arrests of the CIB employees who had been the victim of the hacking of the Humpty Dumpty group. According to him, a high-ranking official involved his connections in the special services, and the hacking organizers were identified about a year ago. The delay in their detention and the release of information on the case was associated with image risks for the FSB.

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