Russian State Sponsored Hackers Steal Democrats’ Donald Trump Research

Donald Trump


According to a report today, Russian state hackers have breached and gained access to a trove belonging to the Democratic National Committee. A trove that notably contains research on opposition presidential candidate Donald Trump.

Democratic National Committee (DNC) officials and security experts have confirmed a security breach of a database of opposition research on Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump.

The Washington Post broke the story, revealing that the breach was total compromise, noting that the hackers were able to read all chat logs and emails.

Russian spies have also targeted the networks belonging to presidential frontrunners Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump, US officials revealed.

DNC officials also admitted to having their networks compromised by hackers for nearly an entire year before security infrastructure was upgraded to ensure better cybersecurity this past weekend.

A telling sign that the hacking endeavor was one sponsored by a state rather than for malicious greed is the lack of financial, personal or donor information accessed or taken by the intruders.

Related read: Did Hackers Leak Donald Trump’s Social Security Number?

Such cyberespionage operations occur routinely around the world, backed by governments including the United States. In this case however, Donald Trump’s information was particularly valuable as the former TV personality has only been a politician for a relatively short time. Compared to, for instance, Hillary Clinton, details about Trump are valuable to foreign governments.

Robert Deitz, former senior councillor to the CIA director and former general counsel at NSA stated:

The purpose of such intelligence gathering is to understand the target’s proclivities. Trump’s foreign investments, for example, would be relevant to understanding how he would deal with countries where he has those investments.

They may provide tips for understanding his style of negotiating. In short, this sort of intelligence could be used by Russia, for example, to indicate where it can get away with foreign adventurism.

For its part, the DNC leadership acted swiftly to call upon cybersecurity firm CrowdStrike. Within 24 hours of receiving that call, the firm had installed software on DNC computers to analyze audit data in order to investigate who was behind the breach as well as how and when it occurred.

While CrowdStrike isn’t sure how the database was breached, the firm is speculating a spear-phishing campaign targeting DNC staff and employees.

CrowdStrike is continuing its forensic investigation of the breach.

Image credit: Flickr.