Hackers seem to have declared war on Democrats — and this time it looks like donors are the target. Yesterday, Reuters reported that the FBI has opened a probe into an intrusion into the computer systems of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC), not long after the hack of the DNC’s e-mail and now voicemail systems. Rather than go after communications, the FBI’s probe indicates that the intruders wanted information about the big contributors:
The FBI is investigating a cyber attack against another U.S. Democratic Party group, which may be related to an earlier hack against the Democratic National Committee, four people familiar with the matter told Reuters.
The previously unreported incident at the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, or DCCC, and its potential ties to Russian hackers are likely to heighten accusations, so far unproven, that Moscow is trying to meddle in the U.S. presidential election campaign to help Republican nominee Donald Trump.
The Kremlin denied involvement in the DCCC cyber-attack. Hacking of the party’s emails caused discord among Democrats at the party’s convention in Philadelphia to nominate Hillary Clinton as its presidential candidate.
The newly disclosed breach at the DCCC may have been intended to gather information about donors, rather than to steal money, the sources said on Thursday.
This hack started in June, when a spoofing site managed to fake out potential donors and seized their information. According to Reuters’ sources, the IP address of the spoofing site and the “really rare malware” employed to execute the hack have the hallmarks of government-sponsored hacking, or presumably official espionage.
The DNC hack produced a major political headache for Democrats. This attack on its donors could be exponentially worse for them. They have just begun their most critical quadrennial fundraising push, and if hackers scare off donors — either by worries over losing money or exposing their sensitive information — it could cripple their efforts in November. That would probably impact down-ballot races rather than the presidential election, as Team Hillary will raise its own money, but it could be disastrous either way.
So which government is behind it? The White House believes it to be Russia, but James Clapper says, “We’re not ready to make a call on it”:
All partisan biases aside, this is extremely worrisome for the integrity of the American electoral process. If a foreign government has started interfering in our elections by manipulating us through intimidation and theft, that should concern all Americans regardless of our own political affiliation. Whichever government is behind it has spent a lot of time and effort in these attacks, and perhaps we should be asking ourselves why they would bother to do so.
We should also remember that one candidate made it so easy to get access to critical information that hostile governments barely had to work to get access to it. Those who spent the last year pretending that Hillary Clinton’s use of an unsecured and unauthorized e-mail system for official State Department business didn’t matter, and that the exposure of highly classified information was not worth punishing, have learned why it was a very big deal … some of them the hard way.