- The Washington Times - Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Despite Election Day being nearly six months away, presidential campaigns waged from either side of the aisle are actively being probed by hackers for reasons ranging from mere mischief to full-fledged espionage, Director of National Intelligence James Clapper said Wednesday.

Speaking at a morning event on the global digital economy at the Bipartisan Policy Center in Washington, Mr. Clapper told reporters that the U.S. intelligence community had “already had some indications” of presidential campaigns being targeted by hackers, Reuters reported.

“As the campaign intensifies we’ll probably have more” attacks, the intel chief added.

Brian Hale, a spokesman for the director of national intelligence, divulged further details in a statement to Reuters later in the day.

“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,” he said in a statement

Mr. Clapper’s Wednesday morning admission came after the intel chief was asked whether authorities were aware of any cyber campaigns aimed at presidential candidates on par with attacks waged ahead of the 2008 and 2012 election, CBS News reported. Mr. Clapper reportedly answered in the affirmative, and said that the Department of Homeland Security and FBI are together “doing what they can to educate both campaigns against potential cyber threats.”

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Rep. Adam Schiff, California Democrat and ranking member of the House Intelligence Committee, said in a statement Wednesday that his panel is privy to the same information reference by Mr. Clapper, and suggested “it’s a reminder that every facet of our lives are dependent on computers, which are by their nature vulnerable to intrusion.”

“Given the intense scrutiny paid to the 2016 campaign — and the broad implications for U.S. foreign policy — it’s no surprise that actors are launching cyber-attacks against presidential campaigns,” Mr. Schiff said.

A group of information security instructors with InfoSec Institute said in October that an audit of websites registered to 12 of the 16 presidential hopefuls at the time contained vulnerabilities. Jonathan Lampe, a researcher with the private security group, told The Blaze this week that the vulnerabilities discovered then were significant enough to still be useful to hackers more than half a year later.

“The sites were open enough back in October that anyone who grabbed the information then and wanted to use it, could still use it now,” said Mr. Lampe.

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