Ex-KGB Officers May Be the Hackers Behind 'ClimateGate'
Photo via Ruby-Sapphire
What could make a story already brimming with intrigue, flared passions, and global controversy even more outrageous? Throw in the involvement of some ex-Russian secret service members. Yes, the ongoing investigation into the hacked climate emails that the media has dumbly taken to calling 'ClimateGate' has revealed some startling findings--the hacking very well may have been carried out by ex-KGB members.Ex-KGB Hackers to Blame?
According to the British newspaper the Independent,
The computer hack, said a senior member of the Inter-governmental Panel on Climate Change, was not an amateur job, but a highly sophisticated, politically motivated operation. And others went further. The guiding hand behind the leaks, the allegation went, was that of the Russian secret services.Now that's an interesting allegation. But what's the evidence of ex-KGB members' involvement? Well, the hacked emails were first posted on a server of a firm called Tomcity, in the Siberian city of Tomsk. Tomcity is an internet security firm known for harboring hackers.
Russia's Federal Security Service (FSB), which is comprised largely of ex-KGB officers, has been proven to "invest significant resources in hackers" and there's been much speculation that the agency works with Tomcity in online espionage. According to the Independent, "the Tomsk office has a record of issuing statements congratulating local students on hacks aimed at anti-Russian voices," in which the FSB is thought to have a guiding hand.
Furthermore, the "Kremlin has also been accused of running co-ordinated cyber attacks against websites in neighbouring countries such as Estonia, with which the Kremlin has frosty relations," according to the report.
The Kremlin, photo via Russia Blog
Is Russia Trying to Stall Climate Talks Through Deception?
If these allegations turn out to be true, it would have pretty severe implications--and what the Indpendent and the investigators seem to be insinuating is that Russia's government agency may be directly responsible for intentionally fanning the flames of climate change skepticism. They say that the hackers were extremely skilled, and were able to target only the emails they knew would stir controversy.
How's that for intrigue? If there wasn't some substantial evidence to back it up, it'd sound like a conspiracy fit for climate change deniers. But, there does indeed appear to be evidence that Russia's secret service may have orchestrated the hacks, leaving one major question hanging: Why?
The Independent lists a couple reasons, each satisfactorily conspiracy-esque: some believe that Russia actually wants global warming to occur. It notes that if climate change affects Russia as predicted, some of its icier areas will thaw, allowing access to areas worth billions of dollars in natural resources like oil and gas that are currently extremely difficult to tap into. Never mind that such a change would likely melt the pervasive permafrost, which many Russian cities and structures are built on, potentially causing a massive infrastructure collapse.
Another idea is that Russia simply wants to delay talks as long as possible, so it won't be accountable for investing in clean energy or emissions reduction technology.
The reasons will most likely have to be left to speculation, as further illumination seems doubtful--even if Russia's ex-secret servicemen are proven to have played a hand in the hacks, given the nation's track record on such matters, the international community is unlikely to ever learn the whole story.
One final note: if this does turn out to be true, it would certainly be an ironic twist to the whole "ClimateGate" affair. It'd mean that those most enthusiastically spreading the so-called scandal--many of whom charge that climate legislation is 'socialist'--are supporting Russia's Soviet-era scare tactics.