Such claims are nothing new. APT28, which is also known as Iron Twilight, Pawn Storm, Sofacy, Tsar Team, Strontium and Fancy Bear, was named as also being behind the hacking of the Democrat National Committee last year.
The initial claims were advanced by CrowdStrike, the company handling security for the DNC, and pushed by Dell Secureworks and Trend Micro. However, when both Secureworks and Trend Micro were asked why CrowdStrike refused the FBI access to the DNC servers, the conversation went silent.
As journalist Daniel Lazaré wrote: "Dmitri Alperovich, the chief technical officer of CrowdStrike, is a Russian émigré with a pronounced anti-Putin tilt. He is also an associate of a virulently anti-Russian outfit known as the Atlantic Council, a Washington think tank funded by the Saudis, the United Arab Emirates, the Ukrainian World Congress, the US State Department and a variety of other individuals and groups that have an interest in isolating or discrediting Russia".
Exactly how much credibility a security company has, after it has to hose down claims that it has been infiltrated, is open to question. But this did not deter FireEye from making claims about Russians targeting others on 11 August.
The attackers, whether they were Russian, American or from Trinidad and Tobago, used the same leaked NSA exploit, ETERNALBLUE, used in WannaCry, to craft a means of getting the GAMEFISH malware installed in the hotels they targeted. The hotels in question were in Europe and the Middle East.
Stressing the Russian angle ensured that the story got good coverage in the American media. Today, the assault on Australian media has begun.
In the US, where it is now more or less an article of faith that Russians hacked the DNC, such claims get a lot of mileage.
This, nowithstanding the fact that a number of former NSA experts say that there was no hack at the DNC, but a leak – an inside job by someone with access to the DNC systems.
But few are willing to speak the central truth – there is no evidence to definitely tie the DNC hack to the Russians. And no definite proof to tie Russia to the hotel hacks either. But then, who cares about facts when you have a good story?