“The Dark Side”: activists release Pandora’s box of hacked Russian documents
“We don’t expect it [the leaked information] to cause any immediate revolution anywhere or big political upheaval, rather, we expect it to provide specific details about how different groups operate and organize themselves, specifically their influence operations, bother overt and covert,”
Move over WikiLeaks, there’s a new leaks site on the scene. On January 25, Distributed Denial of Secrets (DDoSecrets), launched a few months ago by a group of transparency activists, released a massive 175-gigabyte cache of hacked data originating from Russia entitled The Dark Side of the Kremlin.
The leaked data includes documents relating to Ukrainian separatist movements and their contacts with journalists in Ukraine, Russia and Bulgaria, the MH17 tragedy and the Orthodox movement in Russia, according to one of the organization’s co-founders Emma Best.
Best told Hromadske that DDoSecrets’ main aim is to “make sure that as much information as possible is available to those who needed it,” focusing mainly on the presentation of data, rather than analysis.
“A lot of information has a tendency to disappear over time and become very difficult for journalists or historians to access it. Portions of the newest release, The Dark Side of the Kremlin, included several files, which were essentially impossible to access, even for the people who know about it,”Best adds.
The information took several months to collate. The journalist and transparency activist recalls that they had to bring forward the release date for the documents after their server was targeted by outside interference, including a successful wipe.
DDoSecrets also used a variety of methods to verify the data.
“We strongly believe that all the information is valid and much of it has been authenticated through DKIM signatures, the rest are context and responses that we have received from people, as well as our contacts with people in the hacking community,” Best comments.
According to Best, DDoSecrets differs from WikiLeaks in that they release sets of data in bulks, rather than making the data immediately searchable online.
Also unlike WikiLeaks, DDoSecrets has not shied away from publishing material on Russia. As Best comments, WikiLeaks refused to release hacked emails from the Russian Interior Ministry in 2016, claiming that the information had already been made public.
Best hopes that the work of DDoS will “empower researchers and journalists by giving them access to the information in its raw format.”
“We don’t expect it to cause any immediate revolution anywhere or big political upheaval, rather, we expect it to provide specific details about how different groups operate and organize themselves, specifically their influence operations, bother overt and covert,” Best says.