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Defying the Odds

Defying the Odds
New book about the 2016 election.

Saturday, August 18, 2018

Cyberattacks


Joel Schectman and Christopher Bing at Reuters:
The U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation is investigating a cyber attack on the congressional campaign of a Democratic candidate in California, according to three people close to the campaign.
The hackers successfully infiltrated the election campaign computer of David Min, a Democratic candidate for the House of Representatives who was later defeated in the June primary for California’s 45th Congressional district.
FBI agents in California and Washington, D.C., have investigated a series of cyberattacks over the past year that targeted a Democratic opponent of Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA). Rohrabacher is a 15-term incumbent who is widely seen as the most pro-Russia and pro-Putin member of Congress and is a staunch supporter of President Trump.
The hacking attempts and the FBI’s involvement are described in dozens of emails and forensic records obtained by Rolling Stone.
The target of these attacks, Dr. Hans Keirstead, a stem-cell scientist and the CEO of a biomedical research company, finished third in California’s nonpartisan “top-two” primary on June 5th, falling 125 votes short of advancing to the general election in one of the narrowest margins of any congressional primary this year. He has since endorsed Harley Rouda, the Democrat who finished in second place and will face Rohrabacher in the November election.
Maya Kosoff at Vanity Fair:
Similar phishing attacks have been reported by the campaign for Democratic Senator Claire McCaskill—according to the Daily Beast, Russian operatives tried and failed to access the McCaskill campaign’s data using a variant of the password-stealing technique employed by “Fancy Bear” hackers who targeted Hillary Clinton campaign chairman John Podesta in 2016. (In that instance, hackers sent fake e-mails to targets alerting them that their Microsoft Exchange password had expired, and asking them to enter a new one.) Last month, Microsoft revealed that it had detected and blocked hacking attempts against three different congressional candidates so far in 2018; the hackers, Microsoft V.P. of security and trust Tom Burt, announced at the Aspen Security Forum, had used “a fake Microsoft domain . . . as the landing page for phishing attacks.” Separate attempts at meddling have occurred on social-media sites. A few weeks ago, Facebook announced that it had discovered new, malicious accounts on Facebook and Instagram designed to influence elections by targeting divisive social issues, similar to the effort put forth by the Russia-linked Internet Research Agency in advance of the 2016 election. The operators behind the 17 profiles and 8 Pages, which were set up between March 2017 and May 2018, appeared to be more sophisticated, disguising their identities more effectively than the I.R.A.

On July 13, DNI Dan Coats said at The Hudson Institute:
You only need to go back less than two decades ago to put, I think, the current cyber threat into its proper context. In 2001, our vulnerability was heightened because of the stovepipe approach of our intelligence and law enforcement communities that produced what they called "silos of information." At the time, intelligence and law enforcement communities were identifying alarming activities that suggested that an attack was potentially coming to the United States. It was in the months prior to September 2001 when, according to then CIA Director George Tenet, the system was blinking red. And here we are nearly two decades later, and I'm here to say the warning lights are blinking red again. Today, the digital infrastructure that serves this country is literally under attack.

Every day, foreign actors — the worst offenders being Russia, China, Iran and North Korea — are penetrating our digital infrastructure and conducting a range of cyber intrusions and attacks against targets in the United States. The targets range from U.S. businesses to the federal government (including our military), to state and local governments, to academic and financial institutions and elements of our critical infrastructure — just to name a few. The attacks come in different forms. Some are tailored to achieve very tactical goals while others are implemented for strategic purpose, including the possibility of a crippling cyberattack against our critical infrastructure.