The 2018 midterm elections might be over, but the drama is still in full swing. As election results continue to dominate headlines, Republican campaign officials say they were hacked during the 2018 midterms, according to a new report from Politico. Oof. Elite Daily reached out to the National Republican Congressional Committee (NRCC) for further comment on the reported hacking, but did not hear back by the time of publication.
On Tuesday, Dec. 4, sources alleged to CNN that emails from top officials of the NRCC were hacked during the election cycle by an "unknown entity." The intrusion was first reported on Dec. 3 by Politico, which found that the email accounts of four senior NRCC aides were "surveilled for several months" and exposed "thousands of sensitive emails to an outside intruder." The hack was reportedly detected in April, but top GOP officials, including House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wisconsin) and Majority Whip Steve Scalise (R-Louisiana), reportedly weren't told about the attack until Dec. 3 when Politico inquired about the claims.
In a statement shared with CNN about the hack, Ian Prior, a spokesman for the committee, said:
The NRCC can confirm that it was the victim of a cyber intrusion by an unknown entity. The cybersecurity of the Committee's data is paramount, and upon learning of the intrusion, the NRCC immediately launched an internal investigation and notified the FBI, which is now investigating the matter.
"To protect the integrity of that investigation, the NRCC will offer no further comment on the incident," Prior added. Officials reportedly didn't announce the breach sooner because of the ongoing investigation and in an effort to avoid tipping off the hacker.
While the news rings reminiscent of the 2016 breach at the Democratic National Committee (DNC), in which Russian hackers stole and published emails of prominent officials (in an effort to interfere in the presidential election), a source told The Washington Post that it's unclear if a foreign government was behind the hacks. But the hacker was “sophisticated, based on their tactics and methods,” and the intrusion “was clearly designed to hide the tracks of who it was,” the insider said. Party officials, however, reportedly believe otherwise, reportedly telling Politico that they "privately" believe the hacker was a foreign agent thanks to the nature of the attack itself.
Yet the fact that officials chose to withhold the information could be just as bad, one security expert told the Post. Brett Bruen, who once served as a National Security Council (NSC) official in the Obama administration, explained:
The information extracted from this operation could have been of extremely high value for foreign intelligence services. It would provide them with critical insights into the plans, weaknesses and interests of key GOP officials and candidates. By not being transparent about this clear vulnerability to our democracy, the RNC placed the interests of party over those of the country.
Hmm. This situation is not looking good, to say the least. Stay tuned for how this unfolds — because it seems almost certain that this is only the beginning of some very wild turns.