DNC Hack Reveals New Threat and Great Carelessness

DNC, data breach
The DNC’s data breach Photo credit: DonkeyHotey / WhoWhatWhy (CC BY-SA 2.0) See complete attribution below.

Hillary Clinton and the Democratic National Committee have impressively demonstrated how not to treat cybersecurity in the digital age. To sum it up, emails should be guarded a bit better than the “Give a penny, take a penny” tray at the local convenience store.

However, the various hacks (or attempted hacks) of the DNC, Clinton’s private server, the Clinton Foundation and the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee should trouble everybody — regardless of political affiliation. Somebody is committing crimes to infiltrate the Democratic Party and steal data.

If that doesn’t sound familiar then we suggest googling “Watergate.”

Make no mistake, getting hacked does not absolve the DNC from trying to steer the Democratic primary Clinton’s way and it does not absolve her from her foolish email arrangement while heading the State Department.

There are no good actors here, but not all are criminals. The corporate media built up Trump and is now tearing him down. That’s not surprising but it is not a crime. WikiLeaks editor-in-chief Julian Assange is trying to influence the election by timing the release of information to inflict maximum damage to Clinton. That might be troubling, but it is not a crime.

Hacking into any database or network associated with any political candidate, however, is a concern because of the potential impact on US elections. And various unaffiliated experts believe that somebody inside Russia is the one perpetrating it. The true identity of the culprits has not been proven, but it is clear forces are engaged in an effort to damage Clinton. The action could be motivated by fear of Clinton, support of Trump or a hacker fighting boredom. If the US is engaged in this type of interference in elections in other nations, then perhaps this is a natural escalation in the digital cold war. Last year, WhoWhatWhy warned that this could happen. We categorized that story as a “Threat to Democracy” and that is exactly what it is.

A first step to prevent these types of hacks is to enforce existing cyber security laws that require organizations handling sensitive information to protect their systems and operate according to defined standards. And, if that does nothing to stop the frequent hack attempts from within the country and abroad, then a Manhattan Project-type initiative involving public and private specialists might be needed to improve cyber security.

Not only those should be punished who perpetrate these cyber crimes but also those who are negligent in not doing enough to prevent them.

Assange should consider releasing all the DCN documents now, rather than timing release for some potential impact. It might prevent critics from tarring him with a partisan brush. After all, WikiLeaks claims it wants to “bring important news and information to the public.” Its mission statement says nothing about withholding information and revealing it to influence an election.

The DNC has already made some personnel changes but that is not enough. It must reform further to ensure that it, too, does not undermine the democratic process.

Then there is Clinton. There is no indication that she has learned her lesson as she continues to peddle the same (disproven) falsehoods about the emails on her private server. Less than three months before the election, she is the clear frontrunner to become the next president. In that office, she would have to do much better.

What is clear is that all institutions and individuals involved in government have to stop being so nonchalant about how they handle information – secret, confidential or other. And, if they are doing things right and the cyber attacks can still not be stopped, then a top priority for the next government has to be the development of a system that can prevent hacking.

One thing seems certain: If we allow the perpetrators of this latest threat to democracy to get away clean, and if those who allowed these hacks to happen are not held to account, then cyber attacks will become the new normal. And that is bad for all of us.

The cartoon above was created by DonkeyHotey for WhoWhatWhy from these Creative Commons licensed images: Guccifer 2.0, Julian Assange, Debbie Wasserman Schultz, truck (CJ Sorg / Flickr – CC BY-SA 2.0), and shack (Wilson Bilkovich / Flickr – CC BY-SA 2.0).

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7 responses to “DNC Hack Reveals New Threat and Great Carelessness”

  1. Gregory Herr says:

    I’ll politely skip the temptation to allude to the type of “interference” the U.S. is engaged with. The content of the “leaks” is far more important than how the leaks were derived. WikiLeaks commits journalism in America and all the press does is make insinuations about Trump and Putin. That is “what is bad for all of us”. Journalism is a lost art and truth is a lost cause.

    • Lynx 2000 says:

      It’s funny how this message is being aggressively promoted across all media soapboxes, both on the left and right, in what is ironically an impressive feat of unity that I have never seen before.

      I honestly will not be surprised if Clinton leads us into war with Russia after her inevitable coronation in the White House.

    • Guest says:

      100%….but she lost! MAGA for that.

  2. Lynx 2000 says:

    Klaus Marre has written a few articles like this that makes me question the writer’s objectivity sand there seems to be a clear difference to every other article on WWW. This piece reads like a NYT editorial.

    Julian Assange is up front about the fact that he thinks Hillary is dangerous and doesn’t want to see her elected, so I don’t know why that is worth repeating here. But also the article’s general tone and clear condemnation of the hacking makes me feel I’m reading more propaganda , eg “dangerous hackers from Russia are trying to destroy our democracy so be very suspicious of any emailed released and the motives behind them”

    These hacks and their release are so important and vital to a true democracy that they should be praised, not condemned. If it is really Russian behind it then it’s sad that Russia had to expose our governments corruption to us, but if they did, we should thank them! We shouldn’t have to depend on Russian hackers to get the truth about what our elected leaders are doing, but as Hillary shows when she jumped through so many hoops to use a private email server to avoid FOIA, and a Justice Department IG writes a report that should have ended her presidential race on the spot, and then the top Attorney General meets with the former president and spouse of this person, then one week later is cleared of wrongdoing by an administration of the same party and that has actively campaigned for her….no, the hackers are not what we should be worried about here. The hackers are the only reason DWS got booted for abusing her position to favor her candidate over the other and even attempts to stifle the opposition by using her contacts in the press.

    I mean it’s all too much to even list in a small space so I’ll just say that I love WhoWhatWhy and mean no disrespect to Mr Marre, who had criticisms of all involved and was balanced in that respect, but I don’t know what he wanted me to take away from this piece other than “punish these bad hackers ruining our democracy.” But the hacking is just exposing the problem, even if it comes loaded with an agenda of its own by other parties. Unfortunate it is all we have so for that I am thankful.

    • Mackenzie says:

      Excellent post. Fully agree about Klaus Marre’s posts being different than the rest at WhoWhatWhy. Would like to hear Russ’s take on this.

  3. punkyboy says:

    All attention is poised on the fact of hacking, not what the hacking revealed – that the DNC knowingly and viciously, even criminally, conspired (yes, conspired!) to take down Sanders and elevate Clinton to her perceived rightful place as the Democratic candidate for President. And, not mentioned in the article, is the hacking of the NSA, which has vastly more potential for mayhem.

  4. David Letourneau says:

    While by no means a computer expert I am able to wander around in cyberspace to a fair degree. It should be apparent to anyone with a bit of common sense that as long as various government agencies insist on having a back door to all computerized devices to be able to spy, deny privacy and have access to all such devices there can be no secure systems. There are always those who are more clever than these government hacks so anything that you, I and all corporate and government agencies think they, we, can keep secret someone will be able to access. Only when these intrusive agencies allow us our privacy will they be able to have privacy themselves.