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Russia-linked hackers are blackmailing liberal groups by threatening email leaks

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At least 12 US progressive groups have been targeted by extortion attempts in recent months, according to a new report from Bloomberg, which cites FBI and private security sources. The groups have been approached with stolen email or cloud data and a simple threat: pay up or we’ll leak to the press. According to Bloomberg, the amounts range from $30,000 to $150,000. After countless anonymous data drops during the campaign, that threat is more credible than ever.

Bloomberg names only two of the groups — the Center for American Progress and Arabella Partners — although the Center for American Progress has denied receiving any such threats. It’s unclear what other groups may be implicated.

Because of the money involved, extortion attempts are usually associated with criminals rather than intelligence agencies. However, Bloomberg’s sources say many of the techniques used in the attempts are consistent with the Cozy Bear group, which has been linked with Russian intelligence in the past.

Private cybersecurity groups have previously reported a wave of spear-phishing attacks against think-tanks and non-governmental organizations in the wake of the election, many of which also used Cozy Bear’s techniques and toolkit.