The hackers had a distinct behaviour of engaging in online campaign activities which would influence the Americans presidential choices. They made use of Facebook and Twitter to undermine the popularity of Hillary Clinton amongst Americans. The two social media platforms allowed the hackers to spread defaming information about Hillary’s presidency to the internet users in America. An example of the hackers’ tendency to use social media to propagate political stance is on the day of Election when there was a group on Twitter which sent the hashtag War against Democrats about 1700 times (Leila n.p). The hackers were responsible for creating the groups that spread the propaganda. Similarly, Facebook had propagandas which included a post on Facebook which held ‘Never Hillary and the revolution must continue’. Eventually, the hackers went on to endorse Hillary rivals for the Democrats’ nomination using the information they illegally acquired from her emails.
The hackers were able to acquire Facebook, and Twitter accounts with the American profiles. They would then impersonate the Americans to improve the credibility of the propaganda they were sharing on the internet. An inquiry by the Federal Bureau of investigation indicates that over 10 million people saw the hackers’ ads on Facebook. Also, the hackers were able to purchase space on computer servers within the United States to make the political opinions appear to be coming from within the nation. Making the voters of United States think that the political views were from within would significantly influence their choice of a president.
Finally, the hackers illegally got information of the democrat's emails from the Democrats National Committee information system. The hackers then shared the controversial information on the financing of the party presidential candidate with the public portraying Hillary as lacking leadership ethics necessary for holding the president office. The hackers also compromised the personal files of the party leaders, official chats and the credit information of the party donors. At the same time, the hackers were cultivating an excellent reputation for Trump through campaigns on the social media.
Investigations by both governmental and private firms indicate that Russia was responsible for the hack of the Democratic National Committee in 2016. The Secure Works Company investigated the URL which had lured Podesta to giving up the password he was using to get authorisation for accessing the Democrats’ information system. The firm discovered that hackers sent the link to military targets and its source was Russia. The United States Intelligence Agencies also claimed they were confident that Russia was responsible for the hack. Secondly, there was a registration of a domain whose purpose was to trick the Democrats National Committee employees’ using fraudulent emails. The address present in the political organisation system malware was similar to one that had been used to the parliament of German in 2015. An investigation by the security officers from German revealed the malware was from Russia. Their findings concurred with those of crowd strike which claimed that the attack was a Russian operation. Besides, there was a similar SSL certificate present in both breaches.
Further, there was the accidental inclusion of Russian-language metadata in the leaked files (Office of the Director of National Intelligence 13). Also, the documents had errors which were in the Russian language. The hackers later got rid of only those errors which were in the Russian language. The Russian language present on some of the leaked document was a confirmation of what the information system auditors suspected to be an attack by two Russian Intelligence groups. Besides, the Crowd strike company claims that the methods of deliberate targeting and ‘access management’ during the breach were similar to a nation-state level capability. Lastly, Guccifer 2.0 who claimed sole responsibility for leaking the files said to be a Romanian (Office of the Director of National Intelligence 13). However, Guccifer could neither speak the Romanian language nor write necessary codes in the language on the motherboard.
One of the ways through which the source of a computer hack is traceable is through tracing the IP that was used to propagate the breach. Applications like the Netstat and google analytics help identify foreign IP addresses. Upon determining the hackers IP then one can locate their location using tools like trace-route which is available on the Princeton website or the GEOIP tool. Another technique of identifying the source of the computer hack is by analysing the language the hacker used during the breach. Whereby the grammar and comments are available in the software codes. A keen examination of the files reveals details on whether the language can be translated into another dialect. For instance, the analysis of the leaks from the Democratic National Committee indicated the conversion of the Russian alphabet to the English dialect. It is through identifying the language when an individual can verify the country from which the hacking happened.
It is also possible to identify the individuals responsible for computer breaching by comparing previous attacks to the present breach. The compassion helps establish common characteristic in the two attacks. When two cyber attacks are similar, then the hacker is likely to be one. Usually, the attackers tend to be consistent in the way they corrupt the information system of other companies. Therefore, identifying the unique sequence of commands in the malware that links to previous malware helps establish the computer hacker easily. Lastly, going through the hacked information system can assist in locating a computer hacker. An examination of the system helps one identify specific details like their Metadata log in information which the hacker overlooked. The data supports the creation of a profile of the hacker which eventually assists in determining the hacker.
The data from the breach was manipulated to defame Hillary Clinton bid for the presidency. Hillary Clinton is a party member and was vying for the position using the party tickets. His only rival was Donald Trump who was competing for the Republican Party. Therefore, upon the breach of the system, all the confidential information was compromised and made available to the public. The information included personal opinions on party nominations which were guided by Hillary’s own beliefs. There was also information on the campaigning finances for the party and the mandate Hillary had in the party. The release of the information tainted the party reputation whereas the rivals benefited from the manipulation of data. The information provided the basis for validating the ongoing online campaign on defaming Hillary Clinton. It was an opportune moment to use the leaked information to promote the political agendas for nations like Russia in the United States. Over 10 million people on Facebook saw the campaigns defaming the Democrats targeting users in Michigan and Wisconsin. Eventually, the Republicans won with over 30 000 votes in the two cities.
The information was made available through sites that are popular among the American voters. Channels like the Wiki leaks went ahead to published the hacked emails. The timing was convenient because it was during the campaign season when a lot of Americans were keen to understand the potential leaders better. The period of release also heightened suspicion on allegations of a contentious agreement between Hillary campaign team with the Democratic Party. The deal was that the campaign team would oversee staffing and mailing done by the party. Besides, there were tensions of favouring Hillary Clinton during debates which only got worse with the release of the hacked information.
Kompromat is a Russian word which refers to a collection of compromising materials which a party holds as leverage against another party. The Russians meddled with the political process of United States in 2016, therefore, undermining the nation’s democracy. Special counsel Robert Muller already started the process of investigating Trump's campaigners and friends for individual federal crimes. Findings which connect the president to any criminal activity would threaten Trumps presidency. The overwhelming evidence of meeting held by Trump campaigners during the 2016 election period makes Trump's campaign team a reasonable target of kompromat. The Russians seem to have adequate information to prove Trump financial involvement with the Russians Oligarchs (Office of the Director of National Intelligence 17). The president asked Robert Mueller not to investigate the family business because that would be a violation of his rights. The allegations that his firm was an avenue for money laundering. Further theories suggest that the decades-long business dealings between Trump and entities in Russia may have provided Moscow with an opportunity to establish Financial Kopromat against Trump methods of doing business.
Besides, Paul Manafort and Rick Gates who were Trump's campaign manager and deputy respectively agreed to collaborate with an investigation on Russian interference. Manafort has had corrupt ties with the Russians which could also be a leverage Russians have against Trump. Cases of connection between the Russian oligarchs and Republican politician like John McCain make Trump a reasonable kompromat. Lastly, the president attendance at the 2013 Miss Universe event in Moscow attracted many controversies. Among the debates is one that the Russian oligarchs claimed to have a tape of the president with women in a hotel in Moscow. The issue is one that would threaten Trump's public image if indeed it was proven to be true.
Hacking an election campaign constitute warfare in the 21st generation because it threatens a nation’s ability to hold a free and fair election. The election campaign is critical in having democratic elections. Therefore, hacking of an election campaign means that eventually, the elections will not be free and fair. Usually, democratic campaigns provide the candidates and the political parties’ opportunities to inform the voters of the policies they will use after assuming office. The candidates also reason with voters as to why they are best candidates. When the opponents hack a political party’s campaign system, they compromise the campaign strategy of the party (Evan, David " Joshua n.p). The affected party becomes pessimistic about its ability to re-invent a campaigning approach within the limited period. The despair in the political affiliation translates to the loss of trust on the capability of the electoral body to hold a democratic election. The party may boycott the election or spread insightful messages to it supporters causing post-election violence.
Also, the hack may cause a leak in the campaign strategy of the team. The opponent can use the leaked information to promote their political agenda while tarnishing the opponent name. Further, they manipulate the voters’ opinion about the competing candidates using force information. It also provides foreign countries with a chance to advance their interest in the affected states. The foreign nations compete to exploit gaps in rules and regulations to eject financial support to their preferred parties which when they win they push for the international nation agenda. Ultimately the single deed of hacking election campaign undermines democracy.
The hacking story of the National Democratic Committee Information system in 2017 was an indication of how the media and online platforms could be used to undermine democracy by both local and foreign nations. The hacking ordeal also offers an opportunity for the American political institution to improve on the security measures they employ on their data. The social media owners are now accountable for events happening on their platforms. For instance, Mark Zuckerberg who is the owner of Facebook has appeared before Senate to respond to measures the company is taking to prevent users from misusing the platform. As a result, a million Facebook accounts with controversial profile have been shut down.
The government has partnered with security analyst. The partnership has seen the government formulate strict laws on firms threatening government activities like an election. Presently there are procedures on how technology services should be discharged and the government is still negotiating to increase the number of laws. The breach reflects a reality of the external and internal threat facing democracy (Peter " Greg n.p). Whereby the local risks are businesses and corrupt politicians pursuing leadership for personal interest. On the other hand, nations like Russia represent the foreign powers which seek to advocate for the authoritarian leadership at the expense of democracy in the U. S.A. The incidence also shows how the personal interest of politicians with international allies can unknowingly deter America from being democratic. Further, it highlights how money is influencing the political process in the United States. Therefore, the country must reexamine it political alignment to avoid undue influence by nations that oppose democracy.
Evan Osnos, David Remnick, and Joshua Yaffa. Annals of Diplomacy: Trump, Putin, and The New Cold War. Posted on 6th March, 2017. Retrieved from, https://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2017/03/06/trump-putin-and-the-new-cold-war
Leila Miller. The Russia Investigations, Explained. Posted on 3rd
January, 2018. Retrieved from, https://www.pbs.org/wgbh/frontline/article/the-russia-investigations-explained/
Office of the Director of National Intelligence. Background to Assessing Russian Activities and Intentions in Recent US Elections: The Analytic Process and Cyber Incident Attribution. Retrieved from, https://www.dni.gov/files/documents/ICA_2017_01.pdf
Peter Stone and Greg Gordon. FBI’s Russian-influence probe includes a look at Breitbart, InfoWars news sites. Posted on 3 April, 2017. Accessed from, http://www.mcclatchydc.com/news/politics-government/white-house/article139695453.html