Trump Server’s Connections to Alfa Bank Produces Fresh Conflict


Whatever caused the odd data, at issue in the wake of the indictment is whether Mr. Joffe and the other three computer scientists considered their own theory dubious and yet cynically went forward anyway, as Mr. Durham suggests, or whether they truly believed the data was alarming and put forward their hypothesis in good faith.

Earlier articles on Alfa Bank, including in Slate and The New Yorker, did not name the researchers, and used pseudonyms like “Max” and “Tea Leaves” for two of them. Mr. Durham’s indictment did not name them, either.

But three of their names have appeared among a list of data experts in a lawsuit brought by Alfa Bank, and Trump supporters have speculated online about their identities. The Times has confirmed them, and their lawyers provided statements defending their actions.

The indictment’s “Originator-1” is April Lorenzen, chief data scientist at the information services firm Zetalytics. Her lawyer, Michael J. Connolly, said she has “dedicated her life to the critical work of thwarting dangerous cyberattacks on our country,” adding: “Any suggestion that she engaged in wrongdoing is unequivocally false.”

The indictment’s “Researcher-1” is another computer scientist at Georgia Tech, Manos Antonakakis. “Researcher-2” is Mr. Dagon. And “Tech Executive-1” is Mr. Joffe, who in 2013 received the F.B.I. Director’s Award for helping crack a cybercrime case, and retired this month from Neustar, another information services company.

In addition, the Alfa Bank suspicions were only half of what the researchers sought to bring to the government’s attention, according to several people familiar with the matter.

Their other set of concerns centered on data suggesting that a YotaPhone — a Russian-made smartphone rarely seen in the United States — had been used from networks serving the White House, Trump Tower and Spectrum Health, a Michigan hospital company whose server had also interacted with the Trump server.



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