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16 Apr, 2021 14:14

Hackers leak database with over 500,000 emails used to sign up to website in support of jailed Russian opposition figure Navalny

Hackers leak database with over 500,000 emails used to sign up to website in support of jailed Russian opposition figure Navalny

Hackers have compromised a database containing the email addresses of people who had registered on a website in order to campaign for opposition figure Alexey Navalny's release from prison. It is now readily available online.

Keeping their identities anonymous, the hackers have sent emails to Navalny's supporters, threatening to use their email addresses to gather extra information, before eventually selling the database to advertising companies. The leaked file contains 529,570 different addresses, although many of them have not been verified. 

The website, set up on March 23, aims to collect information about 500,000 Navalny backers, with the aim of mobilizing an extensive database once they hit the figure. To sign up, a supporter just needs to enter their location, which can be either their house or street, and an email address. Once the email is confirmed, the person is placed on an interactive map, which currently has 440,217 people.

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The initiative, set up by Navalny's right-hand man, Lithuania-based Leonid Volkov, seeks to show the authorities that a considerable number of Russians are behind the opposition figure. The hackers, however, aren't very happy about the idea.

"Keep participating in the movement of this IT wizz Volkov, and we'll keep getting new data about you, haha," the email, sent to the entire database, cajoled. "In the meantime, we'll start de-anonymizing emails, and soon we'll know your names, addresses, phone numbers. Next, we'll sell your data to advertising companies."

Ivan Zhdanov, director of Navalny's Anti-Corruption Foundation, confirmed the hack as real, but assured those on the database that their only listed data is their email address. The Anti-Corruption Foundation is listed by the Ministry of Justice as a Foreign Agent.

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Writing on the Team Navalny telegram channel, Zhdanov suggested that the issue lies with the third-party service used to send out communications. 

"The biggest mean thing malicious users can do is to send you a nasty email, which will probably end up in spam," he said. "We apologize for the trouble caused."

This is not the first time Navalny supporters have had their information exposed online. In February, Moscow daily Kommersant wrote that an archive of personal information about 28,000 people was leaked on the web, including telephone numbers.

The opposition figure is currently in prison after being judged to have broken the terms of a suspended sentence, handed to him in 2014 due to a case involving French company Yves Rocher.

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