X

German Cybersecurity Consultant With Ties To Russian Influence Ops Met Last Year With US Cybersecurity Officials

November 2nd, 2020 10:36

US media is report­ing that a Ger­man nation­al accused of numer­ous links to Russ­ian influ­ence and intel­li­gence oper­a­tions trav­eled to the US last year and met with US cyber­se­cu­ri­ty offi­cials and  cor­po­rate exec­u­tives from Ama­zon and Microsoft. Accord­ing two the Dai­ly Beast report:

A Ger­man nation­al accused by coun­ter­in­tel­li­gence offi­cials in Ger­many of being part of a Russ­ian influ­ence oper­a­tion trav­eled to the Unit­ed States last year and met with a host of U.S. cyber­se­cu­ri­ty offi­cials from the Depart­ment of Home­land Secu­ri­ty and pub­lic util­i­ty com­pa­nies as well as cor­po­rate exec­u­tives from Ama­zon and Microsoft—all of whom were seem­ing­ly unaware of his con­tro­ver­sial sta­tus back home. On Nov. 11, 2019, Hans-Wil­helm Dünn, pres­i­dent of the Ger­man Cyber-Secu­ri­ty Coun­cil, a Berlin-based non-gov­ern­men­tal asso­ci­a­tion, vis­it­ed the Depart­ment of Home­land Secu­ri­ty in Wash­ing­ton, D.C. He post­ed pho­tos on Twit­ter show­ing him smil­ing beside Deputy Assis­tant Sec­re­tary Richard Drig­gers and a num­ber of oth­er DHS offi­cials. Sev­er­al days ear­li­er, on his first night in the Unit­ed States, Dünn dined with Michael Chertoff, for­mer sec­re­tary of home­land secu­ri­ty and now the CEO of the Chertoff Group, a secu­ri­ty risk and man­age­ment com­pa­ny. More pics fol­lowed, includ­ing one of Dünn and Chertoff shak­ing hands and scenic night shots of the White House and the Wash­ing­ton Mon­u­ment. The meet­ings and visu­al evi­dence of them might have oth­er­wise count­ed as any oth­er ho-hum cal­en­dar event for America’s busy nation­al secu­ri­ty estab­lish­ment and the many friend­ly spe­cial­ists from over­seas look­ing to liaise with it. Except there was one very glar­ing and eas­i­ly google-able prob­lem: about six months before he arrived in Amer­i­ca, Dünn had been pub­licly exposed in the Ger­man media as hav­ing numer­ous links to Russ­ian intel­li­gence and influ­ence oper­a­tions, includ­ing one financed by the U.S.-sanctioned oli­garch Yevge­ny Prigozhin. As a result of the exposés the Ger­man gov­ern­ment announced it was dis­tanc­ing itself from Dünn’s Cyber-Secu­ri­ty Coun­cil (CSRD) owing to its prox­im­i­ty to a high-rank­ing offi­cer from Russia’s Fed­er­al Secu­ri­ty Ser­vice, or FSB, the country’s domes­tic spy agency.

Read the rest here.

The report goes on lat­er to note:

Amer­i­cans weren’t the only ones appar­ent­ly obliv­i­ous to the German’s Moscow con­nec­tions. He was also grant­ed meet­ings in 2018 in Paris with Guil­laume Poupard, direc­tor gen­er­al of the Nation­al Agency for Infor­ma­tion Sys­tem Secu­ri­ty, as well as oth­er senior law enforce­ment fig­ures. The fol­low­ing year, just weeks after the ARD pro­gramme went out, he was par­tic­i­pat­ing at a cyber­se­cu­ri­ty con­fer­ence in Esto­nia. It seems like­ly that the offi­cial-sound­ing nature of his orga­ni­za­tion, its mem­ber­ship of major com­pa­nies, and its close pri­or coop­er­a­tion with the Ger­man gov­ern­ment, enabled Dünn to evade scruti­ny and gain priv­i­leged access.

——-

Dünn appears to have used the CSRD as a vehi­cle to gain access to some of the top cyber­se­cu­ri­ty offi­cials in the world, not only in the coun­tries dis­cussed above, but also Israel, the U.K., and numer­ous oth­er Euro­pean states. Par­tic­u­lar­ly con­cern­ing are his vis­its to crit­i­cal infra­struc­ture-relat­ed secu­ri­ty cen­ters such as the Cal­i­for­nia Pub­lic Util­i­ties Com­mis­sion, the North Amer­i­can Elec­tric Reli­a­bil­i­ty Cor­po­ra­tion or the New York Fire Department.

The Glob­al Influ­ence Oper­a­tions Report (GIOR) report­ed last month that US intel­li­gence agen­cies had warned the White House late last year that Russ­ian intel­li­gence offi­cers were using Pres­i­dent Trump’s per­son­al lawyer Rudolph W. Giu­liani as a means to trans­mit dis­in­for­ma­tion aimed at under­min­ing the pres­i­den­tial cam­paign of Demo­c­ra­t­ic can­di­date Joe Biden