Russian Hackers Hit Republican, Democratic Presidential Campaigns

Share it on Twitter  
Share it on Facebook  
Share it on Linked in  

Russian hacker groups recently breached the computer network of the Democratic National Committee (DNC), and targeted the networks of Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump and Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton, as well as some Republican PACs, the Washington Post reports.

In the DNC's case, the Post reports, the attackers were able to access the committee's entire database of opposition research on Trump, and were able to view all email and chat traffic.

In response, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters, "I absolutely rule out the possibility that the government or government agencies were involved in this."

Last month, director of national intelligence James R. Clapper Jr. said the U.S. government had already seen attempted cyber attacks on presidential campaigns.

"We're aware that campaigns and related organizations and individuals are targeted by actors with a variety of motivations -- from philosophical differences to espionage -- and capabilities -- from defacements to intrusions," Brian P. Hale, director of public affairs for the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, told the Washington Post at the time.

According to the results of a recent (ISC)2 survey of 54 U.S. federal cyber executives, 59 percent of respondents said their agency struggles to understand how cyber attackers could potentially breach their systems, and 40 percent said their agency lacks an effective response plan.

Almost two thirds of respondents either disagreed or strongly disagreed that the federal government as a whole is capable of detecting ongoing cyber attacks.

Twenty-one percent of respondents were unable to identify a senior leader at their agency whose sole responsbility is cyber security, and 42 percent said people are currently their agency's greatest vulnerability to cyber attacks.

Twistlock chief strategy officer Chenxi Wang told eSecurity Planet by email that the lack of robust cyber security measures could ultimately threaten the stability of the U.S. political climate. "If anonymous Russian hackers can steal campaign secrets, what's to stop a less-than-ethical candidate doing the same thing to his/her opposition? Are we looking at a possibility of a 'digital Watergate?'" she asked.

"And how far would this kind of hacking have to go before we see rigged elections and other unthinkable results, which may threaten the very core of democracy?" Wang added.

And Thycotic head of global strategic alliances Joseph Carson said by email that cyber security has to be a top priority if such intrusions are to be prevented. "We have seen eight countries during the World Economic Forum place cybercrime as the highest threat to their economies above all other threats, for example, even migration issues," he said.

"Secondly, it is about cooperation and transparency," Carson said. "Without international cooperation and joining forces internationally, we will not be able to bring pressure to countries who allow cybercrime to thrive and use it for political or economic advantages."

A recent eSecurity Planet article offered 10 tips on mitigating data breaches.