Russian government hackers penetrated the computer network of the Democratic National Committee and the NSA wants payback for the DNC Hack
Russian government hackers penetrated DNC, stole opposition research on Trump!
Russian government hackers penetrated the computer network of the Democratic National Committee and gained access to the entire database of opposition research on GOP presidential candidate Donald Trump, according to committee officials and security experts who responded to the breach. The DNC hack compromised the system and they able to read all email and chat traffic, said DNC officials and the security experts.
The DNC hack was one of several targeting American political organizations. The networks of presidential candidates Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump were also targeted by Russian spies, as were the computers of some Republican political action committees, U.S. officials said.
Russia denies the DNC hack and says maybe someone ‘forgot the password’…
“I completely rule out a possibility that the Russian government or the government bodies have been involved in this,” said Dmitry Peskov, the Kremlin’s spokesman, told the Reuters news agency in Moscow.
Some of the hackers had access to the DNC network for about a year, but all were expelled over the past weekend in a major computer cleanup campaign, the committee officials and experts said. The DNC said that no financial, donor or personal information appears to have been accessed or taken, suggesting that the breach was traditional espionage, not the work of criminal hackers.
The intrusions are an example of Russia’s interest in the U.S. political system and its desire to understand the policies, strengths and weaknesses of a potential future president — much as American spies gather similar information on foreign candidates and leaders. The depth of the penetration reflects the skill and determination of the United States’ top cyber-adversary as Russia goes after strategic targets, from the White House and State Department to political campaign organizations.
“It’s the job of every foreign intelligence service to collect intelligence against their adversaries,” said Shawn Henry, president of CrowdStrike, the cyber firm called in to handle the DNC breach and a former head of the FBI’s cyber division. He noted that it is extremely difficult for a civilian organization to protect itself from a skilled and determined state such as Russia. “We’re perceived as an adversary of Russia,” he said. “Their job when they wake up every day is to gather intelligence against the policies, practices and strategies of the U.S. government. There are a variety of ways. Hacking is one of the more valuable because it gives you a treasure trove of information.”
CrowdStrike identified two separate hacker groups, both working for the Russian government, that had infiltrated the network, said Dmitri Alperovitch, CrowdStrike co-founder and chief technology officer. The firm had analyzed other breaches by both groups over the past two years.
Other analysts noted that any dirt dug up in opposition research is likely to be made public anyway. Nonetheless, DNC leadership acted quickly after the hack discovery to contain the damage.
DNC leaders were tipped to the hack in late April. Chief executive Amy Dacey got a call from her operations chief saying that their information technology team had noticed some unusual network activity. “It’s never a call any executive wants to get, but the IT team knew something was awry,” Dacey said. And they knew it was serious enough that they wanted experts to investigate.
Robert Joyce, chief of the NSA’s shadowy Tailored Access Operations, declined to comment on the DNC hack specifically, but said in general that the NSA has technical capabilities and legal authorities that allow the agency to “hack back” suspected hacking groups, infiltrating their systems to gather intelligence about their operations in the wake of a cyber attack.
Rajesh De, former general counsel at the NSA, said that if the NSA is targeting the Russian groups, it could be doing it under its normal foreign intelligence authorities, as the Russian government is “clearly … a valid intelligence target.” Or the NSA could be working under the FBI’s investigative authority and hacking the suspects’ systems as part of technical support for investigators, said De, now head of the cyber security practice at the law firm Mayer Brown.
The Russian government has said the hacking allegations are “absurd”.