What could possibly be more important than investigating a breach of security which undermines democracy?
According to the DNC deputy communications director Eric Walker, something was. Because throughout this entire investigation, the FBI never accessed DNC servers to investigate.
Instead, Walker says they relied on a third-party firm called CrowdStrike to look into the breach. In a statement via email, he identifies that the DNC had meetings with the FBI, the Department of Justice and U.S. Attorney Offices, but that the FBI never requested direct access to the servers:
“The DNC had several meetings with …the FBI.. the Department of Justice… and U.S. Attorney’s Offices… but the FBI never requested access to the DNC’s computer servers.”
Previously, the FBI and the Department of Homeland Security released a joint report on the hacking, which was widely criticized as being too broad and coming too late.
US intelligence agencies began pointing the finger at Putin, and are of the belief that one or more Russian intelligence groups hacked those servers. Barack Obama announced sanctions in response, including expelling 35 Russian diplomats.
In true Trump fashion, he took to Twitter to claim Russia’s innocence. He has long supported Putin and believes Democrats are trying to undermine his election win.
He tries also to frame the security compromise as a result of DNC carelessness:
Julian Assange said "a 14 year old could have hacked Podesta" – why was DNC so careless? Also said Russians did not give him the info!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) January 4, 2017
CrowdStrike’s analysis of the DNC breach was published on their blog and admits to finding the presence of COZY BEAR and FANCY BEAR: both Russian espionage groups between 2015 and May 2016. Despite this, they do not believe that they worked together for the breach.
“…we observed the two Russian espionage groups compromise the same systems and engage separately in the theft of identical credentials.”
CrowdStrike goes into grave detail in their report, describing the sophisticated methods that FANCY BEAR and COZY BEAR used to avoid detection:
“Our team considers them some of the best adversaries out there…Their tradecraft is superb, operational security second to none …(enabling) them to easily bypass many security solutions they encounter.”
It has been reported that the final evaluation into the DNC hacks will be given to Obama on January 5th. While it isn’t known yet how much of the report will be de-classified and released, the White House has promised to make as much information public as possible.
American intelligence experts believe that without strong consequences, there’s nothing stopping Russia from impacting elections for a long time to come. It isn’t known why the FBI never asked for access to DNC servers, but it seems that their policies relating to election hacks need work.
Feature image via Getty Images/Mikhail Svetlov