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Technology / Cybersecurity

Trump vs Clinton 2016: 5 cyber attacks that defined the election

The US election has been subject to fears of cyber attacks like no other before it. CBR presents a timeline of some of the biggest cyber security moments in the course of the campaign.


Date unknown: US Democratic Party 2016 internal emails hacked

The Democratic National Committee (DNC) saw its private emails stolen in a breach. The emails were released on the website Wikileaks.

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The DNC formally apologised to Hillary Clinton’s main rival Bernie Sanders as the emails appeared to reveal its bias against him in Clinton’s favour. DNC Chair, Representative Debbie Wasserman Schultz of Florida, being forced to resign after the leaks were published.

A hacker called Guccifer claimed responsibility for the incident. However, several US government officials blamed Russian hackers, including National Intelligence Director James Clapper.


March: John Podesta hacked

cyber attackThe email account of Hillary Clinton campaign chair John Podesta was hacked in March by hackers apparently based in Russia.

Podesta, according to SecureWorks, fell for a spear phishing attack sent by the Fancy Bear hacking collective. The email appeared to be a Google security alert but in fact contained a fake link.

However, the damage of the attack did not become truly clear until the trove of emails collected were released by Wikileaks in October, with the election approaching.

The full collection included emails to and from Hillary Clinton.


June: Democrats hacked again

The Democratic Party was hit by another cyber attack which may have compromised the details of donors.

The previously unreported cyber attack on the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC) is now being investigated by the FBI, sources told Reuters.

The attack may have begun in June, according to the sources. This was when a domain site with a name closely resembling a main donation site connected to the DCCC.

Internet traffic associated with donations was then sent to this bogus site.

The DCCC is a fundraising body for Democrats running for seats in the House of Representatives. Information available may have included personal details of donors, such as names, email address and credit card details.


May to September: Voting records hacked

In Illinois, hackers accessed the Illinois Board of Elections database, which contained up to 200,000 personal voter records.

The Arizona voting registration system was also taken offline after officials were apparently alerted by the FBI.

In September, FBI director James Comey said that there may have been other hacks beyond the ones in Illinois and Arizona.


November: Trump and Clinton websites DDoS

Trump's website was hit in a DDoS attack.
Trump’s website was hit in a DDoS attack.

The Mirai malware, which has been used to capture Internet of Things devices to launch distributed denial of service (DDoS) attacks on major targets in recent months, was unleashed on both the Trump and Clinton websites in the days leading up to the election.

The security firm Flashpoint detected the attacks between 6 and 7 November.

However, both sites appeared to remain intact; according to Flashpoint, this is because the Mirai botnet has got weaker.

“Flashpoint assesses with moderate confidence that the Mirai botnet has been fractured into smaller, competing botnets due to the release of its source code, which has led to the proliferation of actors exploiting the botnet’s devices,” Flashpoint’s team wrote in a blog.


This article is from the CBROnline archive: some formatting and images may not be present.