A trove of hundreds of thousands of hacked emails, messages and other documents from Russian officials has been leaked on a new darknet site.
Led by journalists and transparency advocates, the group that published the collection goes by the name Distributed Denial of Secrets (DDOS).
The people behind the collective say they aim to build what WikiLeaks was supposed to be—a place for exposing corruption and promoting transparency—before its credibility was called into question in recent years.
Origins: Distributed Denial of Secrets
DDOS launched as a volunteer effort in November.
The site is something similar to an academic library for leak scholars, with documents like the files North Korea stole from Sony, and the Special State Protection Service of Azerbaijan. It’s hosted on the dark web in order to protect users’ privacy.
There are less than 20 members of DDOS, who all live in different countries; most of them want to remain anonymous.
The inception of the project connected to Russia was a year ago when journalist Emma Best got in touch with a reporter who was looking for a collection of emails that were obtained by Shaltai-Boltai, a Russian hacker group.
After that, they started looking for additional hacked Russian documents and began to get submissions.
Best, who co-founded DDoS, told The New York Times that they were not trying to get payback for Russia’s involvement in the 2016 election by posting the documents, but that the move does add some irony to the situation.
The leaked Russian documents are collectively named Dark Side of the Kremlin.
The volume of the material is 175 gigabytes, an amount higher than the one leaked by Russian hackers during the U.S. presidential campaign of then-candidate Hillary Clinton in 2016.
The motive for the leak is making materials accessible for a much-underexplored subject, the Russian power circles, and their interconnections. DDOS believes that people have an interest in it.
‘The Dark Side of the Kremlin’
The collection of documents includes information from politicians, oligarchs, journalists, nationalists and even terrorists, hundreds of emails, Skype and Facebook conversations, and many other files.
It also includes materials stolen from the Ministry of Internal Affairs of Russia, documents that WikiLeaks did not publish in their releases.
Information was also published involving well-known individuals such as columnist Alezander Budberg, Institute for CIS Countries Vice Director Kirill Frolov, as well as Vladislav Surkov, businessman and advisor to President Vladimir Putin.
Details about business deals, arms deals, and even reports about a falsified story involving a Malaysia Airlines passenger plane are only a few of the things that the collection contains.
Distributed Denial of Secrets said that when the materials for the Dark Side of the Kremlin weren’t yet published but they were collected, there was an attempt by someone to erase one of the server groups.
That became a reason for speeding up the publication for a few weeks and keeping copies of the files in different places to prevent additional roadblocks.
In addition to hosting the data on the dark web via its .onion domain, ddosecretspzwfy7.onion, the group also published the trove on Internet Archive, which has since removed the listing.
After the Internet Archive listing was taken down, investigative journalism website Bivol.bg created a searchable database of the content.
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