Guccifer 2 Game Over Logo

Guccifer 2.0: Game Over

We've seen deliberately placed "Russian Fingerprints", efforts to forge perceived association to WikiLeaks, DNC breach claims discredited, How Guccifer 2.0 Used "Trump Opposition Research" like an identity card the day after it was cited by CrowdStrike executives in a Washington Post article, noted how he could only ever seem to hack the DNC, lacked syntactical traits of a Russian speaking English and has been shown to have operated from US timezones based on email timestamps, archive timestamps, Twitter activity and WordPress activity.

The list of "Additional Articles" are articles unique to this site. These provide further information showing how, why, where and when questionable APT28/29 attributions to Guccifer 2.0 occurred (all were ultimately tenuous) as well as various other relevant topics.

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Adam Carter (aka Tim Leonard)
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Last Update: November 29th, 2018



CONTENTS

1. Introduction
2. Timeline - What Happened & When Did It Happen
3. Guccifer2.0's Claims Debunked & Discredited
4. 3rd Party Assessments - Assumptions & Conjecture vs Evidence & Facts
5. Actions, Consequences & Convenience For Anti-Leak Narratives
6. Rushing To Be Russian - The Donkey In A Bear Costume Made A Mistake
7. Language & Text Analysis
8. Recognizing Intent From Deceptions
9. With Motive & Means - Those More Likely Linked to G2 than Russians

APPENDICES

Additional Articles
3rd Party Articles


(1) Introduction

There are individuals, who, in reality, now have a much higher likelihood of being linked to Guccifer2.0 than anyone in Russia. - The intention of this article is to inform readers extensively about everything there is to know about Guccifer2.0 and from that, be armed with enough information to give motive and means the regard they deserve.

To understand who Guccifer2.0 could possibly be - it is imperative to understand WHAT Guccifer2.0 was.

What did he do? What did he say? Are his claims now confirmed, debunked or yet to be verified? What were the results of his actions? What do any lies told and the likelihood of them being debunked or remaining secret really imply about his intent? Was there anything misreported or omitted that may have been relevant?

The best way to get a clear picture of how incidents relate to each other and recognize suspect timing is to use a timeline - The timeline below was built using references to every unique piece of information directly relevant to Guccifer 2.0 that I could find on public record (no matter whose narrative it supported - as should be fairly clear).


(2) Guccifer2.0 Timeline - What Happened & When Did It Happen?


(3) Guccifer2.0's Claims Debunked & Discredited

Before looking at intent, motive, conflicting evidence and more, it's important to become aware of a few key facts about Guccifer2.0 and some of the claims he made.

CLAIM: Hacked the DNC's servers - STATUS: Discredited

Guccifer2.0 stated in an interview with Lorenzo Franceschi-Bicchierai (for Motherboard / Vice News) on the 21st of June, that he breached the server using a "0-day exploit of NGP-Van".

ThreatConnect, although still apparently unswayed from their assessment that Guccifer2.0 is a collective of Russians (we'll get on to that topic later in the article) - did report some very useful facts that serve to debunk Guccifer2.0's claims.

a) NGP-Van is a cloud-hosted web-service separate from the DNC network, the claimed method of breach was discredted by ThreatConnect. - It was noted that phishing for credentials would be far more practical for exploiting such a service.

b) He makes claims of lateral movement within the DNC network - but doesn't realize that his effort to match the reporting of Crowdstrike falls down due to his own misinterpretation of that. - CrowdStrike's report mentions lateral movement in terms of the "BEAR" infrastructure across the whole of the Internet rather than movement within the DNC network - it looks like Guccifer2.0 s trying to make claims that correlate with what he has inferred from CrowdStrike's reportage.

c) To quote ThreatConnect at the time (and nothing has been reported to contradict it since): "As it stands now, none of the Guccifer 2.0 breach details can be independently verified".

CLAIM: Wikileaks Source for DNC Mails - STATUS: Not Verified

Guccifer2.0 put considerable effort into trying to convince people he was the source for the DNC email leaks that ended up in the public domain on July 22nd.

He outright claimed it, multiple times.

He made a point of mentioning Wikileaks in his purposeful destruction of his own reputation on October the 4th (a reference to his Clinton Foundation claims and the files he posted supposedly demonstrating the hack) and on October 18th showed he was trying to push a perception of being associated with Wikileaks and responded to a Wikileaks tweet as though it was intended for him personally (when it wasn't).

Going back to the 4th, the supposed "Clinton Foundation Hack" - is also where his claim starts to show cracks.

He stated "I can’t post all databases here for they’re too large. I’m looking for a better way to release them now.".

Why, if he was really the source for the DNC emails, would he be at all struggling to find a solution to get the data published? - Why express this 73 days after the last large batch of data he claims to have acquired was successfully published through Wikileaks?

Even putting seemingly contradictory statements aside - Assange has implied that the emails were leaked, rather than hacked, in contradiction with Guccifer2.0's claims and there is still nothing independently verifying Guccifer2.0's claims.

CLAIM: Hacked Clinton Foundation - STATUS: Discredited

On October 4th, 2016 - Guccifer2.0 claimed to have hacked the Clinton Foundation. He followed this up by posting an archive containing files that were all from previous leaks and from documents in the public domain.

Ultimately, he has never produced anything that actually shows such a hack had taken place.

These are not all of his lies or unverified claims, far from it, but they are the ones that are critical to know so that the rest of this article makes sense to you. Above all, the first is most important - his claims to breach the DNC turned out to be fantasy.


(4) 3rd Party Assessments - Assumptions & Conjecture vs Evidence & Facts

There is a difference between independently verifiable evidence and the activity somebody claims to have engaged in or that can be fabricated in an effort to misdirect and masquerade as someone they're not. - None of Guccifer2.0's claims of hacking were independently verifiable and several were debunked by ThreatConnect. - There is nothing demonstrating Guccifer2.0 was really a hacker.

The "evidence" that he's Russian, should be understood in the following context:

Note: Thanks to a 3rd party's further investigation, it now appears he may have used a single document as a Russian template (with Russian stylesheet data in), saved it as a set of blank 'pre-tainted' files and then opened them later under a different username - copying/pasting in content from original documents into each blank 'pre-tainted' document before saving again - as the specific process for creating documents (Stylesheet change RSIDs correlating across files certainly suggest it and the metadata fully corroborates it too).

Guccifer2.0 covered himself and the files in the digital equivalent of "Made In Russia" labels while claiming to be a Romanian. (Giving cyber-security firms, journalists and others a flimsy veil they could easily pull off and find Russian "fingerprints" behind - not realizing that what they were revealing was a layer of misdirection that would actually prevent them from considering a 3rd possibility!)

So what independent, verifiable evidence is there?

Basically - Nothing showing he was Wikileaks source. Nothing showing he actually hacked into the DNC beyond the fact he had acquired some DNC/DCCC documents. (In fact, there was a fair bit to contradict his claims there thanks to ThreatConnect discrediting his breach claims, showing he was unduly trying to be attributed to the malware discoveries!)

Guccifer2.0 was someone who chose to use a Russian VPN (after choosing to taint documents with Russian language) and was noted to have been in possession of a password for a password-protected area of the DCLeaks site (which, plausibly, he could have been given after promising to upload some of his leaks - DCLeaks were willing to give the same password out to the press in exchange for the promise of writing a story about them!)

Pretty much everything stated about him has been based on assumptions, acceptance of questionable admissions and the public have been given little more than conjecture based on factors he seems to have been controlling and choosing.

Sam Biddle of The Intercept (one of the first people to write about Guccifer2.0 when he emerged) details the problem, in a broader sense, of blaming Russia generally for the hacks in an article released on December 14th 2016, titled: "Here’s the Public Evidence Russia Hacked the DNC — It’s Not Enough". - It covers the fact that the evidence on Guccifer2.0 looks dodgy but doesn't try to determine the intent behind his efforts to deceive and claim credit for hacking the DNC (such as this article is attempting to make clear) and instead focuses on the broader scope of allegations about the DNC being hacked.

UPDATE (12 March)

I decided to contact Elite-VPN in relation to the claims made by ThreatConnect and received a response on March 7th. The responses and the annotated image they sent are as follows:

I wrote back asking if it was okay to publish what they had told me. My email to them and their response to it are below:

So... it turns out that if ThreatConnect had tried using the default options - they would have been allocated the "exclusive" IP address that was NEVER really exclusive.

They've caused concern and distress unduly for a VPN Service provider by misrepresenting the service and produced false-positive indicators by suggesting the IP address was used by a shady group of Russians/Guccifer2.0 with exclusivity.

Why didn't someone ask them sooner?

NOTE: While I have uncovered an apparent mistake made by ThreatConnect, I still do respect the research they did and their reporting of facts even when they didn't necessarily support their conclusions was helpful for my investigation - without their transparency and willingness to share their research openly with the public, my research would have been much tougher, so, despite my criticisms I have to say: Thank you to all at TC for the valuable information you shared with us all. :)


(5) Actions, Consequences & Convenience For Anti-Leak Narratives

In total, the amount of new controversies specifically exposed by Guccifer2.0's actions - was very little.

The documents he posted online were a mixture of some from the public domain (eg. already been published by OpenSecrets.org in 2009), were manipulated copies of research documents originally created by Lauren Dillon (see attachments) and others or were legitimate, unique documents that were of little significant damage to the DNC. (Such as the DCCC documents)

The DCCC documents didn't reveal anything particularly damaging. It did include a list of fundraisers/bundlers but that wasn't likely to cause controversy (the fundraising totals, etc. are likely to end up on sites like OpenSecrets, etc within a year anyway). - It did however trigger 4chan to investigate and a correlation was found between the DNC's best performing bundlers and ambassadorships. - This revelation though, is to be credited to 4chan. - The leaked financial data wasn't, in itself, damaging - and some of the key data will be disclosed publicly in future anyway.

All of his 'leaks' have been over-hyped non-controversies or were already in the public domain - the only exception being the apparent leaking of personal contact numbers and email addresses of 200 Democrats - and really that was more damaging to the reputation of Wikileaks than causing any real problems for Democrats. - Ultimately, it only really served to give the mainstream press the opportunity to announce that "leaked emails include personal details of 200 Democrats", again, seemingly an effort to undermine other leaks being released at the same time by legitimate leak publishers.


(6) Rushing To Be Russian - The Donkey In A Bear Costume Made A Mistake

"Russia-Tainted Metadata" Reportage Mostly Ignored A Key Piece of Metadata

There is a key fact about some non-Russian metadata that nobody seems to have reported and it certainly seems to be of critical importance - and that is the document creation timestamps...

There were multiple documents shared with TheSmokingGun, Gawker, ArsTechnica and others.

The first document, "1.doc" (mirror), was given considerable coverage, while the name "Warren Flood" was reported, the date in the report (rather than in the metadata) was reported and so it was attributed to Warren Flood on 12/19/15.

Gawker incorrectly claimed the metadata showed the document was created in 2015 when it actually indicated the document was created by Warren Flood at a much later date.

The truth is that the metadata shows the document being created 30 minutes before Guccifer2.0 appears to have gotten his hands on it:

Created by Warren Flood on 15th of June at 13:38
Modified by Феликс Эдмундович on 15th of June at 14:08

The other document, "2.doc" (mirror) was not mentioned so much, but it too had interesting metadata:

Created by Warren Flood on 15th of June at 13:38
Modified by Феликс Эдмундович on 15th of June at 14:11

How did this get missed? - My guess is that people who investigated were using MS-Word. Recent versions of MS-Word tend to show limited metadata from RTF1 format files, for example, MS-Word 2010 shows:

If you open "2.doc" in OpenOffice though, you will spot what first alerted me to the timestamp correlations in the first place:

If you look at the raw data of "1.doc" you can see an ever closer correlation:

UPDATE (18 Feb 2017)

It was pointed out to me that I'd only focused on 2 documents and that there were more released by Guccifer2.0. - He had actually released a set of 5 RTF1-format documents, all had creation/modification dates as 15th of June and another one of them had Flood listed as it's creator:

File Created By Time Modified By Time
1.doc Warren Flood 1:38pm Феликс Эдмундович 2:08pm
2.doc Warren Flood 1:38pm Феликс Эдмундович 2:11pm
3.doc Warren Flood 1:38pm Феликс Эдмундович 2:12pm
4.doc Blake 1:48pm user 1:48pm
5.doc jbs836 2:13pm Феликс Эдмундович 2:13pm

MD5 sums and mirror links are provided below in case the originals are altered or removed in future:

File Size MD5 Mirror
1.doc 6.8mb a0977ccf006a9e9b5d2c396986cc8da7 link
2.doc 194.6kb 4409de44ef522b583e38a5ed79bf09f0 link
3.doc 211.0kb e44f494ed23907c5298b645063a5dbc3 link
4.doc 1.3mb f79972d72f5304bf1dc4cd2ae6c3a2d4 link
5.doc 67.9kb e2c432bb1e0ef06226594699876292dc link

A more detailed look at the actual contents of documents (eg. RSIDs of different changes and correlations across files) gives further clues about the procedures used to intentionally stick "Russian fingerprints" on some of the files.

Who is Warren Flood?

** UPDATED June 3rd, 2018 **

Warren Flood was Biden's former IT director at the White House.

A document that Flood authored in 2008 and that was attached to one of John Podesta's emails, was used by Guccifer 2.0 as a template into which he then copied the contents of the Trump Opposition Research, copied from this file (which is also attached to this leaked email).. It is Flood's document that the "CONFIDENTIAL" text in the background derives from.

The copy of the Trump research Guccifer 2.0 had was actually a document originally authored by Lauren Dillon (DNC research director) and modified (and sent to John Podesta) by Tony Carrk (Research Director at Hillary for America).

 


(7) Corpus & Language Analysis

Several experts and their assessments have been cited, Motherboard (Vice) reference 3 such experts but only one appeared willing to be identified. - Carrying out our own analysis (and highlighting the process), we can see why the others may have chosen anonymity - their assessments seem to be limited and pick up on things that in aggregate, Guccifer rarely actually does.

Guccifer2.0 used a "Russian smiley" (")))") ONCE! - This was in one of his first posts. The other thing that made him appear Russian was that he referred to hacks as "deals" a couple of times. - HOWEVER, he ONLY does this in the interview with Motherboard/Vice on the 21st of June - he never repeats this behavior in any other communications - so, it seems it was just put on for the purpose of the interview. - These are the main 2 things pointed out by the anonymous experts and are bizarrely both things he does only in 2 isolated incidents.

Professor M.J. Connolly of the Slavic & Eastern European languages department at Boston University had the most valuable assessment - and could explain the syntactical traits that were missing from Guccifer2.0's writing.

For our own non-expert analysis, details about differences between Russian/Slavonic Languages & English language can be found here, here and here.

As a brief example, TSG article's quoted statements from Guccifer are below. Definite and indefinite article use and prepositions are highlighted:

“I stand against Guccifer's conviction and extradition. I will continue Guccifer's business and will fight all those illuminati the way I can. They should set him free!!!!”

“Hi. This is Guccifer 2.0 and this is me who hacked Democratic National Committee.”

“Guccifer may have been the first one who penetrated Hillary Clinton's and other Democrats' mail servers. But he certainly wasn't the last. No wonder any other hacker could easily get access to the DNC's servers.”

“First I breached into mail boxes of a number of Democrats. And then using the info collected I got into Committee servers.”

Compare this to the use of English language expected from someone who is really a Russian, as demonstrated in this screenshot of a video featured in an article by ThreatConnect on 2nd of September 2016. - The difference is stark to say the least!

It's clear from the above (as well as an analysis of a much larger corpus of Guccifer's words that I have compiled - see below) that he habitually uses definite articles, even when communicating in a live chat with Lorenzo Franceschi-Bicchierai of Vice's Motherboard, he rarely fails to include them. - The amount of instances where his definite and indefinite articles are correctly used (when they are used) is around 96%. - In other words, while he mangles English language selectively, he doesn't do it in a way that is consistent or in the way that is expected from those whose native language is one lacking definite and indefinite articles (such as is true with Russian language).

We never see Guccifer struggle with prepositions either:

He never claimed to hack through a server, or get under security or wait around being detected. His command of prepositions is very strong and he seldom drops the use of them.

AUTHOR'S NOTE: As author of this article, I am not pretending to be an expert. I'm just applying some knowledge from the public domain to a large collection of sample data in a manner that demonstrates various factors that relate to the aspects of English language that Russian's would typically struggle with.

Guccifer 2 DMs:
Robbin Young | Cassandra Fairbanks | Roger Stone
Anon1 | Lee Stranahan | HelloFLA (Aaron Nevins)
Flipper4Trump | Charlie Grapski


(8) Recognizing Intent From Deceptions

When you consider all of these various facts in aggregate and understand that Guccifer2.0 never demonstrated any genuine hacking skills, realize his actions only ever served to undermine leaks, ultimately caused no harm to the reputation of anyone except himself and needlessly and inexplicably gave the mainstream press fodder on which they could write headlines branding leaks as "fake", "discredited", "tainted by Russia", etc., had some non-hacking means of acquiring the DCCC documents and has had his claims of breaching the DNC network debunked by ThreatConnect. - It becomes clear that Guccifer2.0 did more to serve the interests of some in the DNC than really act maliciously against the organization leadership.

Anyone critically analysing the nature of Guccifer2.0 can see enough to identify whom he was serving to benefit through his activities online. - His lack of credibility and the inevitability of his Clinton Foundation server hack 'take' being exposed as nonsense makes it clear that Guccifer2.0 was a fraudulent construct intended to counter the leaks and try to take-down the credibility of Wikileaks as collaterol in the self-destruction of it's own reputation.


(9) With Motive & Means - Those More Likely Linked to G2 than Russians

Those with a motive mostly strongly correlating with this at the time would have been the Clinton Campaign (to mitigate damage to HRC's electoral campaign), possibly DNC leadership (who also had reputations at stake from the real leaks being published) or those operating on behalf of either party.

As of June 12th, these groups were in a position where Julian Assange had just announced WikiLeaks' upcoming release of Clinton's emails, Clinton was still under FBI investigation, Trump was attacking Clinton for her use of a private server with his supporters frequently chanting "lock her up!" at rallies).

The campaign and the DNC were in a desperate position and really needed a deflection (something that leaks have since shown the DNC had started building a month or two prior to the hacking claims in relation to Russia) and one where they would be fortunate to have a seemingly clumsy hacker that leaves lots of 'fingerprints' tainting files and bringing the reputation of leaks into question. - Sure enough, 2-3 days later, Guccifer2.0, the world's weirdest hacker was spawned and started telling lies in an effort to attribute himself to the malware discoveries and to Wikileaks.

Of course, attribution to the HRC camp or DNC leadership is difficult because what we've seen from Guccifer 2.0 suggests an operation carried out by someone with considerable cyber-security and counter-intelligence skills (the misdirection and deception fooled a lot of the cyber-security industry and had multiple intelligence agencies convinced - they knew exactly what they were doing) and while their breach claims were discredited, they still had access to the files.

With CrowdStrike deciding to start their NGP-VAN investigation within a week of Podesta's emails being acquired (and 3 months after the actual incident they were apparently investigating) and CrowdStrike making the claims they made in an article released on 14 June 2016 then being supported by Guccifer 2.0 fabricating evidence to support two of their claims the day after publication... AND doing so using Podesta's emails (among other things such as Guccifer 2.0's uncanny recall of Uretsky's breach)... leads me to suspect there may have been ties between CrowdStrike's activities and those of Guccifer 2.0.

At present, in my personal opinion, it looks a lot like CrowdStrike (Henry/Alperovitch and perhaps others) were likely connected to or possibly behind the Guccifer 2.0 operation in some manner, it seems there was at least a symbiotic relationship between CrowdStrike and the hacker persona.

IMPORTANT: This is subject to my inference and to change if/when new verifiable information arises.

As such, I strongly recommend that my assessment and the information in this particular section just be regarded as opinion (I may have made incorrect assumptions or made a mistake with details somewhere) and advise you to look at ALL of the information from the original sources to form a complete understanding of Guccifer 2.0 and to make your own conclusions based on what you can see demonstrated from that.


There are other researchers whose opinions I respect that are NOT convinced that CrowdStrike were involved with Guccifer 2.0. I recommend considering ALL opinions.

If you have any tips, know of anything significant that's missing from the timeline at all or want to chat about anything related to Guccifer2.0 feel free to contact me by email (link at top of article) - Challenges to conclusions are welcomed and won't be greeted with hostility.


Additional Articles (On This Site)

Isolated RTF/RSID Evidence / Correlating With Metadata

Guccifer 2.0 - The Hack/Leak Contradiction (8 April 2017)

Guccifer 2.0 - DCLeaks - APT 28 (17 April 2017)

CrowdStrike & The DNC's Phantom Intruder (OPINION) (25 April 2017)

WH Meetings on Ukraine Coincide With Fingerprint Fabrications (29 April 2017)

The Guccifer 2.0 Advisory Sent To Every US Senator (17 May 2017)

Further RTF Analysis Supports Russian Fingerprint Fabrication (26 May 2017)

The Constant Storm of Controversy & Chaos (31 May 2017)

Guccifer 2.0's First Five Documents: The Process (31 May 2017)

The Webb of Deceit (7 June 2017)

The Washington Post Article on the DNC Hack - Fact or Fiction? (14 June 2017)

RussiaGate Complexities (8 July 2017)

CrowdStrike, Comey & Conflicting Claims? (17 July 2017)

Guccifer 2.0: Game Over - Six Months In (4 August 2017)

The DNC Responds To The Nation Article (12 August 2017)

The First Attack Dog Steps Forward - New York Magazine (12 August 2017)

Distortions & Missing The Point (16 August 2017)

Dirty Techniques (20 August 2017)

Focus On The Decision-Makers - They Have Been Informed (11 September 2017)

Is Salon's Sheffield Skipping & Spinning? (18th September 2017)

Phase #5 Completed (19th September 2017)

United Nations Notified (22nd September 2017)

Facebook Detected Russian Hackers Setting Up Guccifer 2.0 Account? (25 September 2017)

Data From Twitter And WordPress Is Giving Intelligence Committees The Opportunity To Gain Insights Into The Real "Guccifer 2.0" (2nd October 2017)

Khatchadourian's Collusion Delusion (24th October 2017)

Henry, Sabu & Guccifer 2 (9th November 2017)

RussiaGate Redux - Introduction (November 14th 2017)

(part 2) - BuzzFeed's "He Solved The DNC Hack" Article (November 14th 2017)

(part 3) - Smears & Distortions (November 14th 2017)

Did CrowdStrike Engage In A Clandestine Leak Investigation? (27th November2017)


3rd Party Research & Further Reading

This Fancy Bear's House Is Made of Cards: Russian Fools or Russian Frame-Up
by nyetneynyet aka u/tvor_22

Russia and Wikileaks - The Case of The Gilded Guccifer
by nyetneynyet aka u/tvor_22

Did Russia Really Hack The DNC?
by Gregory Elich

Is Guccifer 2 One Person or Multitude of People
by Steve Cunningham

Cyber-analyst: No evidence to connect Guccifer 2.0 to Russian DNC hack
by Steve Cunningham

The Guccifer 2.0 Chat Hoax | Part 2 | Part 3
by Hannibal Moot

Guccifer 2 and the Podesta Emails
by JimmysLlama

US Govt Data Shows Russia Used Outdated Ukrainian PHP Malware
by Mark Maunder / WordFence

Guccifer 2.0 NGP/VAN Metadata Analysis
by The Forensicator

The Russiagate Hoax — Cutting to the Chase
by Mark McCarty

Non-Existent Foundation for Russia Hacking Charge
by Skip Folden

New Report Suggests DNC Hacker Was Collecting Opposition Research on Donald Trump
by Steve Cunningham

Time Zone of Guccifer 2 cf.7z
by Stephen McIntyre

Guccifer 2.0 CF Files Metadata Analysis
by Forensicator

Guccifer 2 Email Time Zone
by Stephen McIntyre

Guccifer 2 and “Russian” Metadata
by Stephen McIntyre

Guccifer 2: From January to May, 2016
by Stephen McIntyre