In the midst of worldwide political uncertainty, think Brexit, US election fever, and, closer to home, the Australian Federal election, the uncovering of secrets is one thing you’d expect every political party to want to avoid at all costs.
The recent hack of the US Democratic National Committee’s entire database of opposition research on Donald Trump, including all email and chat traffic, is undoubtedly a thorn in the side of POTUS hopeful Hillary Clinton. Espionage in the late stages of anyone’s political campaign would be best left in the movies, but pretending that this is the case exposes anyone not prepared.
Shawn Henry, former chief of the FBI’s cyber division and president of CrowdStrike, the firm called in to manage the DNC breach recently said of Russian hackers:
Their job when they wake up every day is to gather intelligence against the policies, practices and strategies of the US government. There are a variety of ways. [Hacking] is one of the more valuable because it gives you a treasure trove of information.
CrowdStrike found two separate hacker groups, nicknamed Cozy Bear and Fancy Bear, both working for the Russian government yet not suspected of working together. Cozy Bear had been monitoring email and chat communications for some months and Fancy Bear had accessed the research team’s computers focussed on the opposition research files and had access to several dozen computers on any given day.
It is not known exactly how Cozy and Fancy infiltrated the DNC, but it is suspected that ‘spearphishing’ emails are to blame. Spearsphishing occurs when a seemingly trustworthy email is received with links or attachments which, once clicked, deploy malware enabling access to the computer.
Security of any organisation’s secrets is critical, whether it be political, financial or economic. Getting in early and foreseeing a threat – like that of hackers –means that you are better prepared and therefore less attractive than another party not so savvy.
We’d argue that had the DNC used BankVault for opening suspicious emails and attachments, it would very likely not be facing this situation now.