Russian hackers broke into the Democratic National Committee (DNC) computer systems and stole opposition research on Donald Trump. The hackers reportedly garnered access to the Trump information a year ago, with their access to the DNC system only being “wiped clean” last weekend.
The DNC claims the Russian hackers did not get access to voter details, donor information, or other related personal or financial data when breaking into the computer system. The “suspicious behavior” in the Democratic Party’s computer system was first noticed in April, according to a Politico report.
Russia has denied being involved with the DNC hacking. Hackers from the former Soviet Union have also been accused of breaking into the computer systems of multiple federal agencies. Yesterday, reports began circulating online claiming Vladimir Putin could be in possession of email communications, with attachments, from Hillary Clinton’s home server.
DNC Chief Executive Officer Amy Dacey contacted party lawyer Michael Sussmann to get help with the hacking breach. Sussmann is a former federal prosecutor who specialized in cybercrimes. Shawn Henry, the president of CrowdStrike, a cybersecurity firm, was called in to help figure out how the DNC computer system was hacked and how to correct the problem. Henry reportedly identified the culprits in 24 hours. The FBI was also called in to investigate the cyberattack.
Democratic Party Chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz told the media the “security of our system is critical” to the party’s operation and to the “confidence of the campaigns and state parties” they work with.
— NBC Nightly News (@NBCNightlyNews) June 15, 2016
“When we discovered the intrusion, we treated this like the serious incident it is and reached out to CrowdStrike immediately. Our team moved as quickly as possible to kick out the intruders and secure our network,” Debbie Wasserman Schultz added.
According to CrowdStrike, two different groups were able to hack into the DNC computer systems. One was code named “Cozy Bear” and the other was dubbed “Fancy Bear.” During the Fancy Bear cyberattack, the hackers were able to browse information on the computers used by Democratic Party research staffers, Gawker reports.
CrowdStrike co-founder Dmitri Alpervotich feels the two cyberattacks were not coordinated between the Cozy Bear and Fancy Bear hackers.
“At DNC, Cozy Bear intrusion has been identified going back to summer of 2015, while Fancy Bear separately breached the network in April 2016,” Alpervotich said. “We have identified no collaboration between the two actors, or even an awareness of one by the other. Instead, we observed the two Russian espionage groups compromise the same systems and engage separately in the theft of identical credentials.”
Although DNC officials admit the Russian hackers were able to obtain a “great library of material” on Donald Trump, they downplayed the amount of “proprietary material” that was also viewed during the cyberattack.
— TechCrunch (@TechCrunch) June 15, 2016
One of the cyber hacking groups might be connected to the GRU Russian intelligence service, according to CrowdStrike. The other group of hackers could be connected to Vladimir Putin’s security agency, the Federal Security Service.
Former U.S. Ambassador to Russia Michael McFaul had this to say about the Russian hackers intrusion into the DNC computer systems.
“I am sure they intended to do this without being caught. They wanted to obtain the information without it being detected. That’s a kind of target that would make sense — in terms of them wanting to know things about what is going on here. Whether they were doing it to try to try to manipulate our political process, I’d have to think about that. Russia has tremendous capabilities, both the Russian government and their proxies and people somewhat affiliated with the government. We always underestimate their capabilities.”
National Intelligence Director James Clapper said cyber hacking attempts during a presidential election have become almost common, and he expects more of the same to likely occur during the 2016 general election race.
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