As the Primaries gather heat and momentum throughout the United States, the rest of the world has also shown increasing interest in the elections, and for good reason: the President of the United States of America can have a direct impact on many countries around the world.
It comes as no surprise, then, that the Democratic National Committee discovered two groups, presumably state-funded Russian ones—hacking into their system and copying information. One of the most important documents compromised is the dossier on Republican nominee Donald Trump, but no hacks have been detected within the Clinton or Sanders campaigns.
Who are these hackers?
According to CrowdStrike, a cybersecurity firm brought in by the D.N.C when they suspected a breach, the hackers are relatively well-known groups. The first group that hacked the Committee’s servers was familiar to CrowdStrike; they had seen the group before and nicknamed it Cozy Bear even before the D.N.C. breach.
The second group has been named Fancy Bear, and is suspected of being a G.R.U. outfit, a military intelligence service. Cozy Bear, according to Dmitri Alperovitch, had been embedded in the D.N.C.’s online communications for a while, and were only discovered when Fancy Bear was detected. Both units show sophistication and careful organization, indicated that they are well-funded, state-sponsored units.
Alperovitch has also stated, however, that both units did not seem to be working together. They often stole the same passwords and accessed the same files, something they would not have done had they been informed of each other’s activities. Both these groups’ previous targets have included classified military and aerospace files from the United States, Canada, Europe, Japan, and South Korea.
Not sure why these hacks are taking place, says Hillary Clinton, but we will stop them
When informed of the hacks, Democrat nominee Hillary Clinton was unable to definitively say why they may have occurred, but did say that cybersecurity must be amped up. Others from the D.N.C. offer no answers either, like Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, who stated only that, “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.”
Trump and Russia?
Trump’s campaign chairman, Paul Manafort, has previously advised pro-Russian politicians, including the former President of Ukraine Viktor F. Yanukovych, which may explain why the Russian hackers may have gone after Trump’s dossier, but no definitive connections have been made yet. The hack may have simply been a way to get insider information on the elections happening in the United States, a matter of grave global and geopolitical importance.
Regardless of why the hacks happened, the D.N.C. is taking measures to tighten its cybersecurity throughout its campaigns to hopefully prevent any more hacks.