Russian 'badd1e' lands on Obama blacklist for hacking attacks

Ms Shevchenko's company is accused of providing technical support for hacking attacks in the US.
Ms Shevchenko's company is accused of providing technical support for hacking attacks in the US.

MOSCOW • She calls herself a "mishacker", a globetrotter with a rebellious online persona who is perhaps the most intriguing of the newly revealed Russian spies.

She is on the list of people targeted by the Obama administration in retaliation for Russia's malfeasance, including efforts to influence the 2016 US elections.

On what appears to be her personal website, Ms Alisa Shevchenko introduces herself and expounds on some of her digital accomplishments, including setting up a workspace for hackers in Moscow.

The White House identified the company Ms Shevchenko founded, Zor Security, as a supplier to the Russian military's Main Intelligence Directorate (GRU), said to be behind the hacking attacks on the Democratic National Committee and other political organisations. The US government said the company provided technical support to the GRU for the attacks.

Ms Shevchenko had been a minor celebrity in Moscow computer industry circles as a "legal" hacker. The Russian edition of Forbes in 2014 described her business as discovering security flaws in the software of banks and other institutions.

Praised as a young talent by the Russian news media in 2005, when she was just 21, Ms Shevchenko worked on cyber defence projects but embraced the symbols and parlance of criminal hackers.

She often posts on Twitter under the handle "badd1e". In a flurry of tweets last Friday, she mocked a US sanctioning agency, the Office of Foreign Assets Control, with a vulgarism, and said she had closed Zor Security.

The Forbes article identified Ms Shevchenko as the winner of a hacking contest in 2014, in which she had found her way into industrial control software used for tasks such as running electrical power plants and grids.

NYTIMES

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 02, 2017, with the headline 'Russian 'badd1e' lands on Obama blacklist for hacking attacks'. Print Edition | Subscribe