Report: DNC Ignored FBI Warnings Regarding Russian Cyber Attack

Democratic National Committee headquarters in Washington / AP
• December 13, 2016 6:12 pm


The Democratic National Committee brushed aside warnings from the FBI that its computer network had been breached by hackers linked to the Russian government, according to a New York Times investigative report.

The Time‘s examination of the election-related cyber attacks, compiled through interviews with dozens of those targeted, found that the DNC's "series of missed signals, slow responses, and a continuing underestimation of the seriousness of the cyberattack" enabled Russia to "roam freely through" the committee's network for nearly seven months without pushback.

When the FBI attempted to alert a DNC tech-support contractor that a hacker had breached the committee's protected network, the staffer conducted a brief search of the DNC computer system logs to look for signs of intrusion. Even after the FBI continued to call over several weeks, the tech worker did little to heed the bureau's warnings. According to an internal memo, the staffer said he "had no way of differentiating the call I just received from a prank call," the Times reported.

Andrew Brown, the DNC's technology director, knew the tech contractor was taking calls from the FBI, but was preoccupied with evidence suggesting that the campaign of Sen. Bernie Sanders (I., Vt.) had improperly accessed Hillary Clinton's campaign data.

The Obama administration also exacerbated the impact of the cyber attacks, according to the Times.

The White House's reluctance to respond forcefully meant the Russians have not paid a heavy price for their actions, a decision that could prove critical in deterring future cyberattacks. … [Obama] made a decision that many in the White House now regret: He did not name Russians publicly. … So the Russians escalated again–breaking into systems not just for espionage, but to publish or broadcast what they found.

In October, months after intelligence officials had charged that Russia was responsible for the DNC hacks, the Obama administration formally accused Moscow of directing the cyber attacks.

The CIA on Friday concluded the breaches were aimed to tip the U.S. presidential election in favor of Trump, who has expressed support for Russian President Vladimir Putin. The president-elect called the CIA announcement "ridiculous."

Republican Sen. Bob Corker, who chairs the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, broke with Trump on Tuesday and said the committee would launch a new review into Russia's involvement in the election-related breaches, according to CNN.

Published under: Cyber Security, DNC, Russia