Russian hackers hunt hi-tech secrets, exploiting US weakness

WASHINGTON (AP) — An Associated Press investigation has found that Russian cyberspies pursuing secrets of military drones and other sensitive U.S. defense technology tricked key contract workers into exposing their email to theft.

What ultimately may have been stolen is uncertain. But the hackers clearly exploited a national vulnerability in cybersecurity: poorly protected email and barely any direct notification to victims.

The hackers known as Fancy Bear, who also intruded in the U.S. election, went after at least 87 people working on drones, missiles, rockets, stealth fighter jets, cloud-computing platforms or other sensitive activities.

The AP analysis indicates that as many as 40 percent of them clicked on the hackers’ phishing links. That’s the first step in allowing email theft or computer hacking.