Democrats Hacked Again: FBI Probing "Cyber Intrusion" At Fundraising Group

Those pesky Russian hackers are working overtime.

According to Reuters, the FBI is probing a "cyber intrusion" at yet another Democratic organization, this time the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC) which may or may not be related to an earlier hack at the Democratic National Committee. The previously unreported incident at the DCCC, which raises money for Democrats running for seats in the U.S. House of Representatives, is said to have been intended to gather information about Democratic donors.

We anticipate another media freakout, one which again blames the Kremlin, is imminent. As Reuters puts it, "the breach and its potential ties to Russian hackers are likely to sharpen concern, so far unproven, that Moscow is attempting to meddle in U.S. elections. The issue has clouded this week's Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia."

The DCCC intrusion could have begun as recently as June, two of the sources told Reuters. That was when a spoof website was registered with a name closely resembling that of a main donation site connected to the DCCC. For some time, Internet traffic associated with donations that was supposed to go to a company that processes campaign donations instead went to the spoof site, two sources said. How this went on as long as it did is unclear: perhaps in addition to having problems with "email", the Democratic party is simply unable to keep keep up with modern technology.

Sure enough, a Russian "trail" has emerged quickly. Reuters' sources said the Internet Protocol address of the spurious site resembled one used by a Russian government-linked hacking group, one of two such groups suspected in the breach of the DNC, the nationwide strategy setting and money-raising body for the Democratic Party.

The DCCC had no immediate comment. Donation processing company ActBlue had no immediate comment.

Reuters adds that the FBI referred questions to a statement it made on Monday on the DNC hack: "The FBI is investigating a cyber intrusion involving the DNC and are working to determine the nature and scope of the matter. A compromise of this nature is something we take very seriously, and the FBI will continue to investigate and hold accountable those who pose a threat in cyberspace."

While private cyber experts and the government were aware of the DNC hack months ago, embarrassing emails were leaked last weekend by the WikiLeaks anti-secrecy group just as the party prepared to anoint Hillary Clinton as its presidential candidate for the Nov. 8 election. 

The revelation of the DCCC breach is likely to further stoke concerns among Democratic Party operatives, many of whom have acknowledged they fear further dumps of hacked files that could harm their candidates. WikiLeaks has said it has more material related to the U.S. election that it intends to release.

While fingers will surely point to Russia, earlier today Director of National Intelligence James Clapper said the U.S. intelligence community was not ready to "make the call on attribution" as to who was responsible for the DNC hack. The White House said earlier the FBI had not disclosed any information about who was behind the hack.

Clapper, speaking at the Aspen Security Forum, acknowledged that "there’s just a few usual suspects out there" who might be responsible for the cyber intrusion, suggesting it was the work of a state actor rather than an independent hacking group.

 

Russian officials have dismissed the allegations of Moscow's involvement. "It is so absurd it borders on total stupidity," said Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov.

So far nobody has claimed responsibility.