The hackers had a distinct behavior of engaging in online campaign activities which would influence the Americans’ presidential choices. They made use of Facebook and Twitter to undermine the popularity of Hillary Clinton amongst the population. The two social media platforms allowed the attackers to spread defaming information about Hillary’s presidency to the Internet users in America. An example of the hackers’ tendency to use social media to propagate political stance is on the day of election when there was a group on Twitter which sent the hashtag #WarAgainstDemocrats about 1,700 times (Miller). The fraudsters were responsible for creating the groups that spread the public awareness campaign. Similarly, Facebook had propagandas which included a post which held ‘Never Hillary and the revolution must continue’. Eventually, the hackers went on to endorse Clinton’s rivals for the Democrats’ nomination using the information they illegally acquired from her emails.
The hackers were able to acquire Facebook and Twitter accounts with the American profiles. They would then impersonate the US citizens to improve the credibility of the propaganda they were sharing on the Internet. An inquiry by the Federal Bureau of Investigation indicates that over 10 million people saw the hackers’ ads on Facebook. Also, the attackers were able to purchase space on computer servers within the United States to make the political opinions appear to be coming from within the nation. Making the voters of America think that the political views were from within would significantly influence their choice of president.
Finally, the hackers illegally obtained personal details from the party members’ emails from the Democrats National Committee information system. The fraudsters then shared the controversial content on the financing of the party presidential candidate with the public portraying Hillary as lacking leadership ethics necessary for holding the office. The hackers also compromised the personal files of the party leaders, official chats, and the credit information of the party donors. At the same time, the attackers were cultivating an excellent reputation for Trump through campaigns on the social media.
Investigations by both governmental and private firms indicate that Russia was responsible for the hack of the Democratic National Committee in 2016. The Secure Works Company investigated the URL which had lured John Podesta to giving up the password he was using to obtain authorization for accessing the Democrats’ information system. The firm discovered that hackers sent the link to military targets, and its source was Russia. The United States Intelligence Agencies also claimed they were confident that the nation was responsible for the hack. Secondly, there was a registration of a domain whose purpose was to trick the Democrats National Committee employees’ using fraudulent emails. The address present in the political organization system malware was similar to the one that had been used on the parliament of Germany in 2015. An investigation by the German security officers revealed that the malware was from Russia. Their findings concurred with those of Crowd Strike which claimed that the attack was carried out by a Russian operation. Besides, there was a similar SSL certificate present in both breaches.
Further, there was the accidental inclusion of Russian language metadata in the leaked files (Office of the Director of National Intelligence 13). Also, the documents had errors which were in the Russian language. The presence of the latter on some of the leaked files was a confirmation of what the information system auditors suspected to be an attack by two Russian Intelligence groups. Besides, the Crowd Strike Company claims that the methods of deliberate targeting and ‘access management’ during the breach were similar to a nation-state level capability. Lastly, Guccifer 2.0 who claimed sole responsibility for leaking the files said to be a Romanian (Office of the Director of National Intelligence 13). However, Guccifer could neither speak nor write necessary codes in the Romanian language on the motherboard.
One of the ways through which the source of a computer hack is traceable is through tracking the IP that was used to propagate the breach. Applications like the Netstat and Google analytics help identify foreign IP addresses. Upon determining the hackers’ details, they can be located by using tools like trace-route which is available on the Princeton website or the GEOIP tool. Another technique of identifying the source of the computer hack is by analyzing the language the attacker employed during the breach. Whereby the grammar and comments are available in the software codes, a keen examination reveals details on whether the language can be translated into another dialect. For instance, the analysis of the leaks from Democratic National Committee indicated the conversion of the Russian alphabet to the English dialect. It is through identifying the language when an expert can verify the country from which the hacking happened.
It is also possible to detect the individuals responsible for computer breaching by comparing previous attacks to the current breach. The compassion helps establish common characteristics in the two incidents. When two cyber-attacks are similar, then the hacker is likely to be one. Usually, they tend to be consistent in the way they corrupt information system of other companies. Thus, identifying unique sequence of commands in the malware that links to previous attacks helps establish the computer hacker easily. Lastly, going through the hacked information system can assist in locating an attacker. An examination helps one identify specific details like their Metadata log in information which the wrongdoer overlooked. The data supports creation of a profile of the hacker which eventually assists in determining the criminal.
The data from the breach was manipulated to defame Hillary Clinton bid for the presidency. Clinton is a party member and was vying for the position using the party tickets. Her only rival was Donald Trump who was competing for the Republican Party. Therefore, upon the breach of the system, all the confidential information was compromised and made available to the public. The content included personal opinions on party nominations which were guided by Clinton’s own beliefs. There was also information on the campaigning finances for the association and the mandate Hillary had there. The release of the data tainted the party reputation, whereas the rivals benefited from the manipulation of the content. The aforementioned details provided the basis for validating the ongoing online campaign on defaming Hillary Clinton. It was an opportune moment to use the leaked information to promote the political agendas for nations like Russia in the United States. Over 10 million people on Facebook saw the campaigns discrediting the Democrats targeting users in Michigan and Wisconsin. Eventually, the Republicans won with over 30,000 votes in the two cities.
The information was made available through sites that are popular among the American voters. Channels like the WikiLeaks went ahead to publish the hacked emails. The timing was convenient because it was during the campaign season when many Americans were keen to understanding the potential leaders better. The period of release also heightened suspicion on allegations of a contentious agreement between Clinton’s campaign team with the Democratic Party. The deal was that the canvassing group would oversee staffing and mailing done by the association. Besides, there were tensions of favoring Hillary Clinton during debates which only became worse with the release of the hacked information.
“Kompromat” is a Russian word which refers to a collection of compromising materials which a party holds as leverage against its counterpart. The Russians meddled with the political procedure of United States in 2016, therefore, undermining the nation’s democracy. Special counsel Robert Muller already started the process of investigating Trump’s campaigners and friends for individual federal crimes. Findings which connect the President to any criminal activity would threaten his position. The overwhelming evidence of meeting held by Trump’s campaigners during the 2016 election period makes the corresponding team a reasonable target of kompromat. The Russians seem to have adequate information to prove Trump financial involvement with the local oligarchs (Office of the Director of National Intelligence 17). The President asked Robert Mueller not to investigate the family business because it would be a violation of his rights. There were allegations that his firm was an avenue for money laundering. Further theories suggest that the decades-long business dealings between Trump and entities in Russia may have provided Moscow with an opportunity to establish financial kompromat against the former’s methods of carrying out the activities.
Besides, Trump’s campaign manager and deputy, Paul Manafort and Rick Gates agreed to collaborate with an investigation on Russia’s interference. Manafort had corrupt ties with the latter which could also be a leverage they have against Trump. Cases of connection between the Russian oligarchs and Republican politicians like John McCain make the President a reasonable kompromat. Lastly, Trump’s attendance of the 2013 Miss Universe event in Moscow attracted many controversies. Among the debates is that the Russian oligarchs claimed to have a tape of the president being with women in a hotel in Moscow. The issue has the potential of threatening Trump’s public image if indeed it was proven to be true.
Hacking an election campaign constitutes an act of warfare in the 21st century, because it threatens a nation’s ability to hold a free and fair voting. The canvassing is critical in nurturing democracy. Therefore, hacking of an election campaign means that eventually, the voting process will not be free and fair. Usually, the democratic canvassing provides the candidates and the political parties with the opportunities to inform the electors of the policies they will employ after assuming office. The candidates also reason with the voters as to why they are best nominees. When the opponents hack a political party’s campaign system, they compromise the canvassing strategy of this party (Osnos et al.). The affected side thus becomes pessimistic about its ability to re-invent a campaigning approach within the limited period. The despair in the political affiliation translates to the loss of trust on the capability of the electoral body to hold a democratic ballot. The party may boycott the election or spread insightful messages to its supporters potentially causing post-election violence.
Also, the hack may cause a leak in the campaign strategy of the team. The opponents can use the surfaced information to promote their political agenda while tarnishing the counterpart name. Further, they manipulate the voters’ opinion about the competing candidates using force information. It also provides foreign countries with a chance to advance their interest in the affected states. The nations compete to exploit gaps in rules and regulations to eject financial support to their preferred parties which they push for the international agenda in case they win. Ultimately, the single deed of hacking election campaign undermines democracy.
The hacking story of the National Democratic Committee Information system in 2017 was an indication of how the media and online platforms could be used to undermine democracy by both local and foreign nations. The incident ordeal also offers an opportunity for the American political institution to improve on the security measures they employ on their data. The social media owners are now accountable for events happening on their platforms. For instance, Mark Zuckerberg who is the owner of Facebook has appeared before Senate to respond to measures the company is taking to prevent users from misusing the platform. As a result, a million Facebook accounts with controversial profile have been shut down.
The government has teamed up with security analyst. The partnership has seen the authorities formulate strict legislation on firms threatening government activities like an election. Presently, there are procedures on how technology services should be discharged; increase of number of laws is still being negotiated. The breach reflects a reality of external and internal threat facing democracy (Stone and Gordon). Whereby local risks are businesses and corrupt politicians pursuing leadership for personal interest, nations like Russia represent the foreign powers which seek to advocate for the authoritarian leadership at the expense of democracy in the US. The incidence also shows how the personal interest of politicians with international allies can unknowingly deter America from being democratic. Further, it highlights how money is affecting the political process in the US. Thus, the country must reexamine it political alignment to avoid undue influence by nations that oppose democracy.
Miller, Leila. “The Russia Investigations, Explained.” Frontline. 2018. https://www.pbs.org/wgbh/frontline/article/the-russia-investigations-explained/. Accessed 23 Apr. 2018.
Office of the Director of National Intelligence. Background to Assessing Russian Activities and Intentions in Recent US Elections: The Analytic Process and Cyber Incident Attribution. 2017.https://www.dni.gov/files/documents/ICA_2017_01.pdf. Accessed 23 Apr. 2018.
Osnos, Evan, David Remnick, and Joshua Yaffa. “Annals of Diplomacy: Trump, Putin, and the New Cold War.” The New Yorker. 2017. https://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2017/03/06/trump-putin-and-the-new-cold-war. Accessed 23 Apr. 2018.
Stone, Peter, and Greg Gordon. “FBI’s Russian-Influence Probe Includes a Look at Breitbart, InfoWars News Sites.” McClatchy DC Bureau. 2017. http://www.mcclatchydc.com/news/politics-government/white-house/article139695453.html. Accessed 23 Apr. 2018.