Dutch spies watched Russian hackers attack Democrats

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Dutch intelligence agencies reportedly tipped off the FBI about Russian hackers they had been spying on for years, possibly leading to an investigation into election meddling, Dutch media reported Thursday.

The hackers' attempts to infiltrate a classified U.S. State Department network in November 2016 prompted the AIVD to alert a U.S. National Security Agency "liaison" based in The Hague, who reportedly passed the information to American intelligence services.

AIVD reportedly alerted the Central Intelligence Agency and the NSA about Cozy Bear's hacking activities throughout the 2016 election.

The Dutch intelligence may have contributed to the Federal Bureau of Investigation inquiry into alleged Russian interference in the 2016 election race, the report said. According to the report, later in the year, Russian hackers targeted the White House computer networks - the attack was also detected by the Dutch intelligence agency, which then informed USA authorities. "And the AIVD hackers have seen it happening before their very eyes".

The Americans were taken completely by surprise by the Russian aggression, the U.S.'s former top cyber diplomat, Chris Painter, told Volkskrant, adding that unpreparedness by the USA intelligence services was "one of the reasons the Dutch access was so appreciated".

A spokeswoman for the AIVD refused to confirm the Dutch media reports, telling AFP "we never comment on operations".

Hackers from the Dutch intelligence service known as the AIVD gained access to the network of Russian hacking group "Cozy Bear" in the summer of 2014.

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"If Dutch newspapers want to throw oil on the fire of the anti-Russian hysteria in the United States, that's not the most dignified of activities", Peskov told reporters.

Earlier in November 2014, the Dutch also alerted the U.S. to a Cozy Bear attack on the State Department, the daily added.

Dutch spies reportedly hacked the network of Russian hackers based near Red Square in Moscow.

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Even though the assault was thwarted after a 24-hour cyber battle, one Trojan email did get through, enabling the Russian group to access the White House.

Volkskrant said it spoke with 15 people over the course of the seven-month investigation.

However, before this incident happened, officials from Dutch intelligence agency "AIVD" had intercepted the hacking group and warned American officials about the threat, according to Reuters.

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