Analyst: Government Use Of Personal Email Exposes Sensitive Information To Hackers

• January 8, 2016 11:57 am


A cybersecurity expert told members of Congress Friday morning that a private email server set up for personal and official government purposes, like the one Hillary Clinton used while secretary of state, would certainly expose classified information to being hacked.

Science, Space, and Technology Committee Chairman Rep. Lamar Smith (R., Texas) asked John Wood of the Virginia Cyber Security Commission if the circumstances surrounding Clinton’s scandal should provide cause for concern, without mentioning the Democratic frontrunner by name.

"Let’s say a senior government official at an executive branch department approached your company to set up a private email account and for conducting both official and personal business. These emails could include sensitive or classified information about national security. In addition, all emails would be stored on a server located in their private residence. Cyber attacks intrusion and attempted intrusions would be obvious threats among other security risks. The material transmitted on the private email account could be a matter of national security," Smith said, leading to his questions.

"Could this scenario unnecessarily expose private information to being hacked?" Smith asked. Wood’s answer was short and to the point. "Yes."

"How would your company respond to such a request?" Smith asked.

Again, the cybersecurity analyst proved his efficiency with words.

"We wouldn’t do it," Wood said.

After being further prodded by Smith, Wood explained that to carry out such a request would be illegal in his view.

"You’re exposing classified data in the open," Wood said. "At the end of the day, that would not be prudent and would also be illegal."

A new batch of Clinton’s emails was finally released by the State Department at 2am Friday morning after the department received flak for missing an imposed deadline by over a week. In the latest tranche, 66 emails within the 2,900 released were upgraded to classified.

A few emails included with those not classified are certain to raise eyebrows. In one instance, after failing to send talking points over a secure fax, Clinton directed staff member Jake Sullivan to send her the information without any markings at the top in a "nonsecure" email.

"If they can't, turn into nonpaper w no identifying heading and send nonsecure." Clinton said.

In another exchange, the secretary of state expressed her surprise that one of her staffers was using a personal email for official business.

"Is he in NEA currently? Or was he in Embassy? I was surprised that he used personal email account if he is State," Clinton wrote to Sullivan.

Ironically, Clinton wrote that email from her own personal email account.