Months later, on October 9, WikiLeaks began publishing thousands of Podesta's hacked emails. Almost everyone immediately pointed the finger at Russia, who is suspected of being behind a long and sophisticated hacking campaign that has the apparent goal of influencing the upcoming US elections. But there was no public evidence proving the same group that targeted the Democratic National Committee was behind the hack on Podesta—until now.The data linking a group of Russian hackers—known as Fancy Bear, APT28, or Sofacy—to the hack on Podesta is also yet another piece in a growing heap of evidence pointing toward the Kremlin. And it also shows a clear thread between apparently separate and independent leaks that have appeared on a website called DC Leaks, such as that of Colin Powell's emails; and the Podesta leak, which was publicized on WikiLeaks.All these hacks were done using the same tool: malicious short URLs hidden in fake Gmail messages. And those URLs, according to a security firm that's tracked them for a year, were created with Bitly account linked to a domain under the control of Fancy Bear.THE TRAIL THAT LEADS TO FANCY BEARThe phishing email that Podesta received on March 19 contained a URL, created with the popular Bitly shortening service, pointing to a longer URL that, to an untrained eye, looked like a Google link.
Read more: We Spoke to DNC Hacker 'Guccifer 2.0'
This newly uncovered data paints an even clearer picture for the public, showing a credible link between the several leaking outlets chosen by the hackers, and, once again, pointing toward Fancy Bear, a notorious hacking group that's widely believed to be connected with the Russian government. While there are still naysayers, including presidential candidate and former reality TV star Donald Trump, for many, the debate over who hacked the DNC, and who's behind all this hacking, is pretty much closed."We are approaching the point in this case where there are only two reasons for why people say there's no good evidence," Rid told me. "The first reason is because they don't understand the evidence—because the don't have the necessary technical knowledge. The second reason is they don't want to understand the evidence."UPDATE, 10/20/2016, 4:31 p.m.: After publication of this story, Bitly sent Motherboard a statement to say the company can only do so much to prevent malicious actors from using its service, as it "cannot proactively police our customers' private data without compromising our commitment to their privacy.""The links and accounts related to this situation were blocked as soon as we were informed. This is not an exploit of Bitly, but an unfortunate exploit of Internet users through social engineering. It serves as a reminder that even the savviest, most skeptical users can be vulnerable to opening unsolicited emails," the statement read.Get six of our favorite Motherboard stories every day by signing up for our newsletter.
"They don't want to understand the evidence."