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Fri, 14 Dec 2018 15:00:00 -0500

Maria Butina: Cybersecurity charlatan, spy

Russian spy Maria Butina's cover story was her academic interest and expertise in cybersecurity. As cover stories go, this unfortunately wasn't a hard one to pull off.

Except anyone holding even the barest minimum of cybersecurity knowledge could've figured out in minutes that Butina's interest in cybersecurity was minimal.

If you're not caught up on the story, Maria Butina (aka Mariya Valeryevna Butina, Mariia Butina, Мари́я Валерьевна Бу́тина) is an alleged Russian spy who pleaded guilty to engaging in conspiracy against the US yesterday. She originally made headlines on July 15th this year, when the feds nabbed her. A founder of the Russian gun-rights organization Right to Bear Arms, she cultivated relationships with powerful conservatives in American politics (including Donald Trump Jr.), infiltrated the Republican Party and the NRA, then built connections between Russia and the NRA and even got money flowing between the two. She also worked at cultivating a relationship with the EFF and other civil rights groups.

"As part of her agreement," reviewed by The Daily Beast, "she has promised to cooperate with American law enforcement." So surely we'll learn more about those "further orders" in the near future. But while the indictment and press focus on the Russia-GOP-NRA connections, it's her work in the cybers and how it pertains to orgs like the EFF that some may find fascinating.

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