The presidential campaign of the Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton said in a statement on Friday that a computer system consisting of analytics data program used by the campaign but maintained by the Democratic National Committee (DNC) has been hacked.
The latest cyber-attack is the third, following two previous attacks in which hackers, believed to be linked with the Russian intelligence services, compromised systems used by the DNC and later the party’s fundraising Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCC), according to Reuters.
The DNC cyber-attack led to the release by WikiLeaks on July 22, of about 20,000 DNC emails with revelations that DNC officials had favored Clinton over her rival Sen. Bernie Sanders. The revelations embarrassed party officials and led to the resignation of the DNC chairperson, Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-Fla.).
The analytics data program targeted in the latest attack is essentially a “dynamic voter database” containing information used to conduct voter analysis, according to CNN. But Clinton campaign insiders assured that the data did not include voters’ security numbers and credit card information.
A Clinton campaign aide said that with the breach of the campaign’s analytic data program, hackers may also have gained access to the Clinton campaign’s internal emails, voicemails, and other sensitive internal communications.
The FBI and the Justice Department said on Friday that they were investigating the latest hack as part of a broader investigation of possible compromise of other systems maintained by the DNC.
The FBI said in a statement that its agents were “working to determine the accuracy, nature and scope of these matters.”
“The FBI takes seriously any allegations of intrusions, and we will continue to hold accountable those who pose a threat in cyberspace.”
The U.S. Department of Justice national security division said it was investigating to assess the threat posed to national security.
Analysts said that the involvement of the national security division of the Justice Department indicated that the administration of President Barack Obama believes that a state actor was behind the attacks.
And although the Obama administration has been guarded in its statements, intelligence officials were certain that hackers working for competing arms of the Russian intelligence services were behind the latest and previous DNC hacks.
The conclusion, according to cyber security experts, is based on analysis of trails left by the hackers.
Following the initial statement that an analytic data program it uses for voter analysis had been hacked, the Clinton campaign added that its “internal computers systems” were not compromised.
“An analytics data program maintained by the DNC, and used by our campaign and a number of other entities, was accessed…”
A Clinton campaign official also told reporters that investigators were able to determine that the hackers accessed the relevant servers for about five days, according to the Associated Press. But the exact nature of the files and information the hackers obtained was unclear.
CNN reports that the intrusion was confirmed by private investigators hired by the campaign. The investigators said that trails left by the attackers indicated there were the same as the Russian hackers that compromised the DNC systems and later systems used by the party’s fundraising Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCC) in Washington.
The computer systems of the DCCC, the fund-raising arm for House Democrats, hold sensitive financial data.
Intelligence officials concluded that Russia was motivated by the desire to influence the U.S. presidential election in favor of the Republican Party candidate Donald Trump.
The DCCC hack was first reported on Thursday by Reuters, ahead of Clinton’s acceptance speech at the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia.
A DCCC spokeswoman also confirmed that the DCCC hack was similar to the DNC hack and that the hackers may have gained access to a haul of material more extensive than previously realized.
According to the New York Times, forensic experts said that the attack on the DCCC’s systems appeared to have come from a group called “Fancy Bear,” believed to be linked to the Russian military intelligence service, G.R.U.
The hackers were also able to breach systems used by several other Democratic Party organizations, including private companies linked to the party.
Some Democratic Party officials have pointed to the fact that Republican Party organizations have so far not reported any intrusions on their systems to buttress claims that the Russians are working to sway the outcome of the election in favor of the Republican candidate Donald Trump.
The series of attacks has raised serious concerns, coming only a few months before the general election. The emerging implication that foreign hackers may be working in favor of the Republican candidate has forced Trump to walk back on previous comments inviting the Russians to find and release Clinton’s 30,000 deleted emails.
“Of course I’m being sarcastic,” Trump told Fox News during a Thursday interview, ostensibly to deflect insinuations that he had called on a foreign adversary to conduct espionage against the country and that he was not fit to receive national security briefing, or become the president.
[Photo By Andrew Harnik/AP Images]