- The Washington Times - Tuesday, June 14, 2016

The Democratic National Committee admitted Tuesday that Russian hackers managed to successfully infiltrate their computer database and had access to opposition research, including their files on GOP presidential front-runner Donald Trump.

Other political campaigns and committees were also reportedly targeted, including both likely major-party nominees.

But the DNC took the brunt of it, according to early reports, having had all of its Internet traffic open to scrutiny by the hackers since last summer.

Shawn Henry, president of CrowdStrike Services, said his company was called in about six weeks ago and were able to identify “with a very high degree of confidence” a group they attributed back to the Russian government targeting the DNC network.

He said his company saw “Russian adversaries” looking at research, and that they would have the ability to see emails, chat logs, and messages.

He did say, however, that he didn’t see anything related to organized crime that would indicate the compromising of personally identifiable information like credit card and social security numbers.

“But these intelligence agencies, clearly looking for [policies], strategies — those sorts of things related to an espionage campaign,” Mr. Henry said on MSNBC.

The embarrassing revelation comes as Hillary Clinton, Democrats’ presumptive nominee, continues to fend off questions about the security surrounding her own private email system and server she used while serving as secretary of state.

Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, who chairs the DNC, said they took action once they believed they were being tapped.

“When we discovered the intrusion, we treated this like the serious incident it is and reached out to CrowdStrike immediately,” Mrs. Wasserman Schultz said. “Our team moved as quickly as possible to kick out the intruders and secure our network.”

Rep. Adam Schiff, California Democrat and ranking member on the House Intelligence Committee, said it’s no surprise that other countries would use “clandestine means” to gather information on a possible U.S. president and that campaigns are attractive targets for cyber espionage.

“While I cannot get into the specifics of any one attack or hack, in light of our increasingly adversarial relationship with Russia after their invasion of Ukraine, we must expect that Russia, in particular, will target our institutions relentlessly — and for those that are not well defended, successfully,” Mr. Schiff said.

Paul Martini, the CEO of the firm iBoss Cybersecurity, said the incident is another example of how even advanced networks holding sensitive information can be breached, and that organizations need to do a better job of catching hackers in the process of stealing data, rather than after-the-fact.

“This is quickly becoming the cybersecurity election, with Hillary Clinton’s email server issues, the ongoing debate about encryption and privacy, and now this breach,” Mr. Martini said.

Mr. Henry called the level of sophistication behind the hack “very, very high” and “very, very difficult to detect.”

“The foreign intelligence services understand and recognize that organizations maintain this information, and they’re looking to get any type of advantage as the political process continues to help them better develop their political strategies and to have [a] deep understanding of candidates, etcetera,” Mr. Henry said.

• David Sherfinski can be reached at dsherfinski@washingtontimes.com.

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