Monday, September 19, 2016

HACKING THE CAMPAIGN - Election System Vulnerabilities

"How hackers could prey on election vulnerabilities" PBS NewsHour 9/15/2016


SUMMARY:  This week, emails written by former Secretary of State Colin Powell, which were critical of Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton, appeared on a website that's reportedly an outlet for hackers tied to Russia.  Judy Woodruff speaks with Dmitri Alperovitch of Crowdstrike and David Sanger of The New York Times about the recent wave of hacks tied to the presidential campaign and the impact on the election.

JUDY WOODRUFF (NewsHour):  This year's political campaign has a new and different wrinkle.  Cyber-hacking has led to regular public releases of documents and private e-mails involving the political parties and key players.

The Democrats are the most frequent targets.  But it's not only them.

The list of election season cyber-attacks is growing.  The latest target, former Secretary of State Colin Powell.  A trove of his e-mails appeared online this week after his personal account was hacked.  In one referring to GOP nominee Donald Trump and black voters, Powell wrote, “He takes us for idiots.”

Another referred to Democrat Hillary Clinton as greedy, not transformational.  The messages were posted on a site that's reportedly an outlet for hackers tied to Russia.

Clinton today did blame the Russians.  The White House wasn't saying.

JOSH EARNEST, White House Press Secretary:  We don't necessarily want to reveal sources and methods that the FBI uses to conduct these kinds of investigations.

JUDY WOODRUFF:  All of this follows the July release of thousands of Democratic National Committee e-mails.  They were published on WikiLeaks just before the Democratic Convention.  And on Tuesday, WikiLeaks tweeted a link to more DNC files.  The Web site's founder, Julian Assange, claimed in an interview with the NewsHour last month that it's done in the public interest.

JULIAN ASSANGE, Founder, WikiLeaks:  And that performs an ongoing role leading to great works in investigative journalism, successful court cases, civil litigation, criminal process, and, of course, also contributes to public understanding.

JUDY WOODRUFF:  Meanwhile, Politico reports hackers are also targeting state Democratic officials.  And congressman Michael McCaul, chair of the House Homeland Security Committee, says Republican operatives have been hacked as well.

Still, in Washington yesterday, the president's homeland security adviser, Lisa Monaco, played down any threat to the integrity of the election, but added:

LISA MONACO, Assistant to the President for Homeland Security:  The efforts of malicious actors to intrude upon voter registration databases and other elements of our critical infrastructure, as well as our voting infrastructure, is of concern.

JUDY WOODRUFF:  The White House says if there is a response to the hacking, it may not be announced in advance, or ever.

For a deeper look at the actors and the politics behind the hacks, we turn to Dmitri Alperovitch.  He's co-founder and chief technology officer at CrowdStrike.  That's the cyber-security firm that investigated online breaches of the Democratic Party over the summer.  And David Sanger, chief Washington correspondent for The New York Times.

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