The FBI is probing suspected attempts to hack the mobile phones of Democratic Party officials’ mobile phones as the bureau broadens its investigation into recent cyber-attacks on Democratic Party organizations.
Following a string of suspected attacks occurring as recent as last month, the FBI has requested to copy data from the devices of a small number of officials. It’s unclear whether targeted officials were elected politicians.
One source told Reuters that Feds are investigating whether hackers used data stolen from servers run by Democratic organizations or the private emails of their employees to get access to cellphones.
If the phones were hacked, attackers would have been able to retrieve sensitive data such as text messages, location data, call data, photos, emails, contacts and more. Hackers could theoretically also access sensitive databases and systems, depending on phone security.
Many have speculated that these most recent attacks are related to an ongoing cyber espionage campaign being waged against the Democratic National Committee (DNC), Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC), and the Clinton campaign, in an apparent attempt to influence the results of the November 8th presidential election.
The more recent attempt looks to have been conducted by Russian-backed hackers, sources told Reuters.
Some U.S. officials have said publically that they believe those attacks were orchestrated by state-sponsored Russian hackers, backed by the Kremlin. Russia has denied accusations that it was involved in attacks on the Democratic party and its organizations.
In a statement to CNN, Interim DNC Chairwoman Donna Brazile said “Our struggle with the Russian hackers that we announced in June is ongoing – as we knew it would be – and we are choosing not to provide general updates unless personal data or other sensitive information has been accessed or stolen.”
During the Monday night’s Presidential debate at Hofstra University, Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton placed the blame for recent attacks squarely on Russia.
“There is no doubt now that Russia has used cyber attacks against all kinds of organizations in our country,” said Clinton. “…Putin is playing a really tough, long game here, and one of the things he’s done is to let loose cyber attackers to hack into government files, to hack into personal files, hack into the Democratic National Committee.”
Clinton also made some not-so-subtle hints about retaliatory action if she were elected, stating that her administration is “not going to sit idly by and permit state actors to go after our information.”
“We’re going to have to make it clear that we don’t want to use the kinds of tools that we have. We don’t want to engage in a different kind of warfare, but we will defend the citizens of this country And the Russians need to understand that,” said Clinton.
For his part, Republican nominee Donald Trump cast doubt on allegations of Russia’s involvement. “
I don’t think anybody knows that it was Russia that broke into the DNC,” said Trump. “She’s saying Russia, Russia, Russia. I don’t — maybe it was. I mean, it could be Russia, but it could also be China, it could also be lots of other people. It also could be somebody sitting on their bed who weighs 400 pounds, ok?”
However, Trump did note that “the security aspect of cyber is very, very tough.”
“And maybe,” he added, “it’s hardly doable.”
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