Revealing his thoughts on Donald Trump, Hillary Clinton, and a host of other politicians, former Secretary of State Colin Powell became the most recent person to have his personal emails shared by DCLeaks, a leak-publishing website that remains shrouded in mystery, on Tuesday. Not much is known about the website, which launched this past April. It has been alleged by ThreatConnect, a cybersecurity firm, that DCLeaks has ties to Russian spies, but that connection remains unconfirmed.
As email leaks have become increasingly commonplace in recent months, it becomes more important to know what these sites are, why they exist, and who is behind them. Bustle reached out to DCLeaks to comment on these allegations, and will update the story with any new information.
What Is DCLeaks?
On DCLeak’s “about” page, it says that the website “is a new level project aimed to analyze and publish a large amount of emails from top-ranking officials and their influence agents all over the world.”
So what does that all mean? The site publishes information that has been attained through hacking, though it does not specify who that information comes from, as is to be expected. It says it is "ready to get valuable information, check its validity and to make it available to the public."
The information is organized by subject, so it really seems to put an emphasis on who is involved in these leaks, even if they are not household names. There is information about top-level government employees, like Hillary and Bill Clinton, as well as influential private citizens, like prominent businessman George Soros.
Who Is Behind It?
According the the website, it was launched by “American hacktivists” in an effort to combat what they say is a corrupt political system that prevents its citizens from participating in government.
Much speculation has been made that the site is a dumping ground for information attained by Russian spies. As International Business TImes notes in its analysis of the ThreatConnect report, "the web domain of DCLeaks was registered with the Romanian THCServers – which has also been linked to Fancy Bear in the past." Fancy Bear is the Russian group believed to have hacked the DNC emails this year.
ThreatConnect noted in its report, "Why would the supposed 'American hacktivists' behind DCLeaks choose this seemingly random, small, Romanian registrar to register their domain?" ThreatConnect also argued, "DCLeaks provides Russia with another platform that they can use to hide their hand and conduct influence operations in the US."
Why Is This Information Published?
The site says that “U.S. citizens have the right to know how domestic and foreign policies of the United States are shaped and who the real policy maker is.”
If Russia is behind the site, it would seem their motivation would be to expose politically damaging information involving top U.S. officials, in order to some way benefit their interests. Many have speculated that Russia is attempting to affect the outcome of the presidential election, but others say that, due to the wide scope of targets and information on DCLeaks, their goals may be more complex. Bloomberg reported last month about the information shared on DCLeaks:
The e-mails and documents posted to the DCLeaks site in early June suggest that the hackers may have a broader agenda than influencing the U.S. presidential election, one that ranges from the Obama administration’s policy toward Russia to disclosures about the hidden levers of political power in Washington.
Why Should I Care?
Leaks of private information, especially dealing with government officials, have become more prevalent in recent years, and they can have serious implications on a national and international level. If DCLeaks is, ultimately, proved to be linked to Russia, the Powell emails may speak to a growing problem that the United Stated is having in combatting serious cyber attacks.