Hacking is up across the board as a result of the Coronavirus lock-down, and some of the more notable recent attacks have had a political tone.
We all remember the Mueller Investigation into Russian interference during 2016 Election. One of the former FBI Directors signature findings during this seemingly never ending exercise was the fact that the US intelligence concluded with “high confidence” that in early 2017, Russian entities engaged in a hacking operation that the left claims should have invalidated the election's results. The so-called interference was a email phishing campaign that hacked into the computer servers of the Democratic National Committee (DNC) as well as the Gmail account of Clinton campaign chair John Podesta.
Information stolen during this hack was published globally via WikiLeaks, in one of the outfits most well-known data acquisitions. Among the revelations uncovered were embarrassing email conversations that exposed the racist nature of many high-ranking DNC employees.
In 2018, America mostly avoided cyber-attacks, as a report from former Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats to the White House indicated. Intelligence officials were also unable to find evidence of any penetration into digital voting systems, although social media disinformation campaigns aimed at American voters did occur.
So what can we expect in 2020? We may have already gotten a preview, as just weeks ago, prior to the riots that have now taken hold of America, we received news regarding one of the most notable hacking attacks in recent memory.
The victim of the attack was one of the most well-known entertainment lawyers in the world, Allen Grubman, of the celebrity law firm Grubman, Shire, Meiselas and Sacks. The attack yielded hackers 756MB of data, including legal secrets, confidential documents, and personal e-mails from celebrities including Lady Gaga, Madonna, Mariah Carey, Bruce Springsteen, Priyanka Chopra, Elton John, Robert De Niro and Bette Midler.
Also victimized in the attack was President Donald Trump. And the hackers have threatened to reveal some “dirty laundry” on President Donald Trump if they are not paid the demanded ransom.
The hacking group behind the attack is known as REvil. REvil subsequently released links to 3 web downloads including a password to access them. A statement from the hackers published by Forbes stated, “We read the position of the authorities. Declare this an act of terrorism. Your position is your choice. This will not affect our work in any way. It’s just that it can completely erase certain frames that we still observed. But now is not about that. Mr. Lawyer says that Donald has never been their client. And he says that we are bluffing. Oh well. The first part, with the most harmless information, we will post here."
REvil also advised Trump to “poke a sharp stick at the guys” and to force the law firm to pay the ransom. They also sent a message to voters saying “we can let you know that after such a publication, you certainly [won’t] want to see him (Trump) as president.”
The emails that were part of the initial data dump did mention the President, and as promised, were "harmless." But what if they actually hold secrets or damaging information may potentially sway voters this November? Could they be aligned with forces opposed to the Trump administration and be preparing to release more information as the election cycle progresses? If so, we could be seeing the next phase of the evolution in election politics in the digital age.