Computer hacking, as defined by cyber.laws.com is the modifying or altering computer software and hardware to accomplish a goal that is considered to be outside of the creator’s original objective. While this phrase may bring slight headaches to some, for the U.S. government currently, it yields a whole new set of problems. Beginning on July 22nd, approximately 19,252 emails and 8,034 attachments belonging to the DNC (Democratic National Committee) were leaked via WikiLeaks, a non-profit organization specializing in leaking classified information to the public.
The leak itself proved devastating to the DNC, prompting the resignation of the chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz, CEO Amy Dacey, CFO Brad Marshall, and Communications Director Luis Miranda. The Washington Post reported on July 25th that: “Many of the most damaging emails suggest the committee was actively trying to undermine Bernie Sanders’s presidential campaign. Basically, all of these examples came late in the primary—after Hillary Clinton was clearly headed for victory—but they belie the national party committee’s stated neutrality in the race even at that late stage.” While the shocked American public tried to comprehend the contents within the emails, the US intelligence community started the process of investigating who exactly hacked into a mainframe that was normally deemed “un-hackable”. What they ended up finding has been cause for controversy as the political landscape has been literally split in half, with one side brushing off the issue at hand, and the other side frustrated that not everyone is taking the situation seriously.
In an assessment released on January 6th, 2017 the U.S. intelligence community officially stated that it was on the orders of the Russian president, Vladimir Putin, that the hacks had occurred. It was also laid out that the main strategy of the hacking was to steer the election in favor of Donald Trump.
A self-styled hacker going by the name “Guccifer 2.0” claimed to be the source of the leaks; WikiLeaks did not reveal its source. Cybersecurity experts and firms, also stated the leak was part of a series of cyberattacks on the DNC committed by two Russian intelligence groups.
Thomas Rid, writing in Esquire in October, stated that Russia began hacking the U.S. as early as 1996, five years after the fall of the Soviet Union; however, this is the first time that the leader of Russia, Putin, has been directly blamed for the attacks. Although the Obama administration has vowed to retaliate against the Russian hackers, there is a slim chance that the attacks will stop in any way shape or form. Now I know what you’re thinking, how does this affect how I go about my everyday life? Regardless of whether the hackers are of Russian descent, they do pose a threat to individuals living within the United States by frequently attacking national infrastructure.
For example, in Ukraine, anonymous hackers targeted the power grid, and then proceeded to shut off phone lines so no one was able to call power services to fix the outage. While these incidents may seem harmless, one must think about the vast consequences that these attacks may have. Sometimes hackers don’t take information and materials from you, they decide to put things in instead.
On December 9, the Times reported that suspected Russian hackers targeted critics of the country’s government who live overseas by posting child porn on their computers. So, the question of the day is: what can we do? With new reports coming in regarding the Russian hackers and a brand-new president with his own views about dealing with foreign entities, we’re in a treat for the next four years. But as always stay sharp and vigilant; and as Albert Einstein once stated, “I never think of the future, it comes soon enough.”