An enormous collection of hacked and leaked documents from inside Russia has been posted online by a group of transparency advocates. The documents, adding up to about 175 gigabytes in data, were shared on the website of Distributed Denial of Secrets, or DDoSecrets, and on Internet Archive simultaneously. The group that posted it is known to operate in a manner similar to WikiLeaks, posting confidential documents obtained by hackers and whistle-blowers.
Most of the material sheds light on Russia’s business dealings and government activities. A collection of files called “The Dark Side of the Kremlin,” included hundreds of thousands of pages of information from Russian politicians, journalists, oligarchs, and religious figures. Material hacked from Russia’s Ministry of Internal Affairs and documents from the Russian arms exporting agency Rosoboronexport were also included in the data dump.
The release is being widely seen as a retaliation for the 2016 hacking of the DNC and former Clinton campaign chairman John Podesta. Russian intelligence members from the agency known as the G.R.U. were indicted last year for that attack and the Russian government was accused of masterminding the attack to influence the U.S. presidential election held that year. The Russian government has repeatedly denied hacking the DNC.
Similar hack-and-leak operations have been happening on a weekly basis for years in Eastern Europe. In many cases, the hacks are used for intelligence gathering and selective leaks are used for political purposes. When websites like DDoSecrets and WikiLeaks get ahold of these documents, they publish them to a wide audience, allowing journalists and security researchers to pore over them for any secrets they may hold. The sheer volume of this released material means that it may take some time for it to be searched thoroughly and its secrets disclosed.