Dutch intelligence services have provided "crucial evidence" to United States counterparts about Russian meddling in the 2016 elections, Dutch media reported Friday.
The Dutch intelligence may have contributed to the Federal Bureau of Investigation inquiry into alleged Russian interference in the 2016 election race, the report said. Not only can the intelligence service now see what the Russians are doing, they can also see who's doing it. Pictures are taken of every visitor.
Mueller's team is seeking to uncover whether the Trump campaign colluded with Russia's efforts to sway the election, including leaks of hacked Democratic Party files.
AIVD agents monitored the group's headquarters between 2014 and 2017, and it allegedly passed information to the CIA and US National Security Agency warning them about potential attacks on American government organisations. Using photographic evidence obtained from the camera's direct feed, AIVD compiled a list of Russians who entered the hacking center and thusly determined SVR's ultimate responsibility for the attacks.
The AIVD then warned U.S. intelligence about the hack, but it reportedly spied on Cozy Bear for up to 2.5 years, and even had access to a security camera within the Moscow building, where the Russian hackers were based.
The agency was able to hack into the group's systems and pinpoint their location.More news: Korea to send 22 athletes to Pyeongchang Olympics
Cozy Bear has been widely blamed for meddling in the 2016 USA elections won by now President Donald Trump.
In the past eight months, members of Trump's campaign, family and White House staff have all been interviewed, and four indictments have been issued, with two guilty pleas as the investigation has spiralled closer to Trump himself. For years, it supplies them with valuable intelligence about targets, methods and the interests of the highest ranking officials of the Russian security service. "Hacker groups frequently change their methods and even a different firewall can cut off access", the report said.
A spokeswoman for the AIVD refused to confirm the Dutch media reports, telling AFP "we never comment on operations". But on Friday, a Russian presidential spokesman dismissed it as adding "fuel to the fire of anti-Russian hysteria". However, the news outlets reported that Dutch officials were angered by the unnamed sources in the Washington Post report as that may have compromised the Dutch team.
The Cozy Bear crew, it seems, didn't realise that they'd been counter-hacked and betrayed by their own network.
Netherland's Joint Sigint Cyber Unit (JSCU) - a joint unit of Dutch intelligence agencies AIVD and MIVD, reportedly found that Cozy Bear's headquarters was a university building near the Red Square.