In a narrative strikingly similar to the alleged Russian hack of the Democratic National Committee (DNC), the news media has been pushing a story citing a cybersecurity firm saying it discovered Russian military spies hacked into Burisma, the Ukrainian gas company at the center of the impeachment campaign targeting President Donald Trump.
The alleged Russian hackers “could be searching for potentially embarrassing material on the Bidens” reported the New York Times, which first broke the story citing Area 1’s findings. Burisma paid Hunter Biden as a board member while Joe Biden boasted on video about personally threatening to withhold loan guarantees from Ukraine unless a prosecutor investigating Burisma was removed.
Democrats immediately jumped on the Russian hacking storyline in an attempt to portray legitimate questions about the Bidens and Burisma as some sort of Kremlin interference in the 2020 election.
Commenting on the alleged hack, House Intelligence Chairman Adam Schiff (D-CA) claimed it “certainly looks like” the Russians are “at it again with an eye toward helping this president. We all have to denounce any further meddling in our elections.”
The news media, however, failed to report that Area 1, the firm entirely relied upon to allege the Russian hack of Burisma, was founded by an expert who was a top employee at CrowdStrike and is further linked to the CrowdStrike firm. CrowdStrike is the third party company utilized to conclude that Russia hacked the DNC after it famously refused to allow the FBI to directly conduct forensic examinations of the DNC server.
In spotlighting the Burisma hack story, the media also largely failed to report Area 1 has been hired by at least half the Democratic presidential nominees for anti-phishing services or that it’s funded by a technology venture capital firm whose employees are Democrat donors.
Area 1 is also partnered with Google while CrowdStrike was funded by Google’s parent company.
The Times first reported on the alleged Russian hack of Burisma which was reportedly discovered by Area 1 on New Year’s Eve. The hack was carried out by the Russian military intelligence unit formerly known as the G.R.U., according to Area 1.
The Times claimed the alleged Russian hackers may have been seeking “the same kind of information that Mr. Trump wanted from Ukraine when he pressed for an investigation of the Bidens and Burisma, setting off a chain of events that led to his impeachment.”
The Times reported:
Area 1 researchers discovered a G.R.U. phishing campaign on Ukrainian companies on New Year’s Eve. A week later, Area 1 determined what the Ukrainian targets had in common: They were all subsidiaries of Burisma Holdings, the company at the center of Mr. Trump’s impeachment. Among the Burisma subsidiaries phished were KUB-Gas, Aldea, Esko-Pivnich, Nadragas, Tehnocom-Service and Pari. The targets also included Kvartal 95, a Ukrainian television production company founded by Mr. Zelensky. The phishing attack on Kvartal 95 appears to have been aimed at digging up email correspondence for the company’s chief, Ivan Bakanov, whom Mr. Zelensky appointed as the head of Ukraine’s Security Service last June.
To steal employees’ credentials, the G.R.U. hackers directed Burisma to their fake login pages. Area 1 was able to trace the look-alike sites through a combination of internet service providers frequently used by G.R.U.’s hackers, rare web traffic patterns, and techniques that have been used in previous attacks against a slew of other victims, including the 2016 hack of the D.N.C. and a more recent Russian hack of the World Anti-Doping Agency.
The Washington Post immediately jumped on the story in a piece titled, “Russian spies hacked Ukrainian gas company at heart of Trump impeachment trial, company says.”
“The attacks were successful,” said Oren Falkowitz, a co-founder of Area 1. Falkowitz was widely quoted in the news media to verify the Area 1 analysis.
Area 1’s Falkowitz has actively supported Democrats on his twitter feed.
I believe in Science! #ImWithHer
— Oren J. Falkowitz (@orenfalkowitz) July 29, 2016
— Oren J. Falkowitz (@orenfalkowitz) June 28, 2019
Id rather a @POTUS with a record of blemishes than no record at all.
— Oren J. Falkowitz (@orenfalkowitz) June 28, 2019
— Oren J. Falkowitz (@orenfalkowitz) October 23, 2019
Falkowitz donated the amount of $1,337 to Sen. Elizabeth Warren’s (D-MA) 2020 presidential campaign in July. He donated the same amount to Sen. Corey Booker’s (D-NJ) stalled campaign in September. In 2015, he gave $1,000 to Never Trumper John Kasich.
The $1,337 donation from Falkowitz to two Democrats running for president came after the Federal Election Commission in July gave special permission to Area 1 to offer its anti-phishing services to federal candidates and political committees at a minimal cost. The flat annual fee for Area 1 services to political candidates is reportedly $1,337.
Democratic presidential candidates wasted no time securing Area 1’s services. As of two months ago, about half of all major 2020 presidential candidates signed up to utilize Area 1, Falkowitz said.
Falkowitz was asked by Mercury News whether the candidates were paying more attention to the potential threat of foreign hackers. He said that he was interfacing directly with the candidates on the issue.
“Without a doubt. I’ve been encouraged in my conversations with candidates directly, and with their staffs, that they are talking about and thinking about the issue. That was definitely not the case in 2016. But there’s a lot more work to do,” Falkowitz replied.
Area 1 is linked to CrowdStrike. Area 1 co-founder Blake Darché worked at CrowdStrike as a Principal Consultant prior to founding Area 1. He was one of the founding members of CrowdStrike’s Services organization.
Falkowitz is an expert for the annual RSA Conference on cybersecurity where Dmitri Alperovitch, CrowdStrike’s co-founder and Chief Technology Officer, serves on the advisory board. Area 1 participates annually in the RSA Conference alongside CrowdStrike’s Alperovitch.
Just like CrowdStrike, Area 1 is tied to Google.
CrowdStrike was financed to the tune of $100 million from a funding drive last year led by Google Capital. Google Capital, which now goes by the name of CapitalG, is an arm of Alphabet Inc., Google’s parent company. Eric Schmidt, the chairman of Alphabet, has been a staunch and active supporter of Hillary Clinton and is a longtime donor to the Democrat Party.
Area 1, meanwhile, partnered with Google to become Google’s Cloud Technology Partner for Security.
Aaron Klein is Breitbart’s Jerusalem bureau chief and senior investigative reporter. He is a New York Times bestselling author and hosts the popular weekend talk radio program, “Aaron Klein Investigative Radio.” Follow him on Twitter @AaronKleinShow. Follow him on Facebook.
Joshua Klein contributed research to this article.