Investigators with the FBI are continuing to search for more information about server connections between computers from the Trump Organization and a Russian bank. The investigation seemed to have dismissed after hitting a standstill several months ago, but the case remains open and has recently come back into the spotlight.
There is still a lot to dig into and several dots to connected, but investigators are finding it “odd” that the server activity from a Russian Bank and the Trump Organization is happening at such a high frequency. The FBI declined to comment, but lets take a look at what we do know about the situation.
Last year, a small group of computer scientists obtained internet traffic records from the complex system that serves as the internet’s phone book. Access to these records is reserved for highly trusted cybersecurity firms and companies that provide this lookup service.
These signals were captured as they traveled along the internet’s Domain Name System (DNS).
These leaked records show that Alfa Bank servers repeatedly looked up the unique internet address of a particular Trump Organization computer server in the United States.
In the computer world, it’s the equivalent of looking up someone’s phone number — over and over again. While there isn’t necessarily a phone call, it usually indicates an intention to communicate, according to several computer scientists.
What puzzled them was why a Russian bank was repeatedly looking up the contact information for mail1.trump-email.com.
IP addresses are publicly available information, so it was relatively easy to find the IP address and match it to the Trump Organization, which was connected to a machine located in Lititz, PA.
It has been determined that between May 4th and September 23rd, the Russian bank, called Alfa Bank, looked up the address to the Trump’s server 2,820 times, which is extremely odd.
If someone looked up a phone number that many times it would be safe to say there is a significant relationship there.
Alfa Bank’s lookups represented 80% of the lookups. 714 lookups took place by Spectrum Health, a medical company run by Dick DeVos, Betsy DeVos’s husband. Betsy DeVos was recently appointed as U.S. education secretary.
Alfa and Spectrum accounted for 99% of the lookups to Trump’s server.
CNN also noted:
This server behavior alarmed one computer expert who had privileged access to this technical information last year. That person, who remains anonymous and goes by the moniker “Tea Leaves,” obtained this information from internet traffic meant to remain private. It is unclear where Tea Leaves worked or how Tea Leaves obtained access to the information.
Tea Leaves gave that data to a small band of computer scientists who joined forces to examine it, several members of that group told CNN, which has also reviewed the data.
A smoking gun? Perhaps. Something innocuous? Maybe. Regardless, there’s still more here to go after than Trump’s baseless and slanderous claims that Obama tapped his phones.
UPDATE: It’s now being reported that Alfa Bank has now issued a legal threat against computer scientists who released the information connected the Russian bank was in communication with the Trump Organization.
The bank sent a letter to one of those computer scientists, L. Jean Camp of Indiana University, with a warning of legal action.
“Alfa Bank is exploring all available options to protect itself from malicious or tortious interference,” it said. “Those options include litigation.”