The Democratic National Committee was recently notified that hackers within the Russian government had gained unauthorized access to their computer database, The Washington Post reported. According to committee officials and security experts, the hackers had a specific target: They gained access to the DNC’s entire database of research information on Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump.
Security people confirmed the compromise was so in depth that the hackers obtained access to emails and chat traffic.
After an investigation of the breach, a DNC representative said that no financial, donor or personal information was accessed. The DNC is calling the incident an act of traditional espionage rather than the work of criminal hackers.
The precision of the breach shows Russia’s skill and determination in accessing specific information.
The DNC contacted the firm CrowdStrike to handle the breach. Shawn Henry, the company’s president and a former FBI official, told the Post, “It’s the job of every foreign intelligence service to collect intelligence against their adversaries.”
He added, “We’re perceived as an adversary of Russia. 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.”
Robert Deitz, former general counsel at the National Security Agency, stated this type of intelligence gathering is used “to understand the target’s proclivities.”
Deitz added, “Trump’s foreign investments, for example, would be relevant to understanding how he would deal with countries where he has those investments.”
Although the campaign of Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton did not comment on the intrusion, DNC Chairwoman Rep. Debbie Wasserman-Schultz said, “The security of our system is critical to our operation and to the confidence of the campaigns and state parties we work with. When we discovered the intrusion, we treated this like the serious incident it is and reached out to CrowdStrike immediately. Our team moved as quickly as possible to kick out the intruders and secure our network.”