This could be a really big deal.
The New York Times reported this morning that the man who wrote the code that Russian operatives used to compromise the Democratic National Committee (DNC) turned himself in to authorities in Ukraine earlier this year and is now a witness for the FBI.
“I don’t know what will happen,” he wrote in one of his last messages posted on a restricted-access website before going to the police. “It won’t be pleasant. But I’m still alive.”
It is the first known instance of a living witness emerging from the arid mass of technical detail that has so far shaped the investigation into the D.N.C. hack and the heated debate it has stirred. The Ukrainian police declined to divulge the man’s name or other details, other than that he is living in Ukraine and has not been arrested.
The unnamed man who goes by the alias "Profexer" may or may not have worked directly for the Russians. Profexer reportedly offered his code for free online in exchange for donations while also offering customized versions for a price. He reportedly sold the code on the Dark Web, an area of the internet that is only accessible using special browsers.
He had made it available to download, free, from a website that asked only for donations, ranging from $3 to $250. The real money was made by selling customized versions and by guiding his hacker clients in its effective use. It remains unclear how extensively he interacted with the Russian hacking team.
After the Department of Homeland Security identified his creation, he quickly shut down his website and posted on a closed forum for hackers, called Exploit, that “I’m not interested in excessive attention to me personally.”
If he is providing information to the FBI as the New York Times reports, I presume he may have information about the people who used his code. But that's purely speculation on my part.
Given that he is Ukrainian, that puts him in fairly close proximity to former Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort. Manafort made a name for himself in Ukraine where he worked (and maybe still does) for pro-Russian oligarchs. I doubt Manafort knows the first thing about hacking, but a lot of shady money has flowed through him.