back to article GOPwned: Republicans fall victim to email hack

The National Republican Congressional Committee, the Republican Party's campaigning arm in the US, has confirmed it fell victim to hackers, who broke into its email system. Following an early report from Politico, the committee confirmed to multiple outlets that someone had been surveilling its messages for months. The NRCC …

  1. veti Silver badge

    All we can do is wait

    It'll be interesting to see who starts leaking, and how, and when.

    If any of this information comes out within the next year, then it's a safe bet that whoever is doing it is trying not to damage the Republicans' chances in the next election. They may be shit-stirring for other purposes, but the timing would be designed to minimise electoral consequences.

    If it comes out in mid-2020, that would look like more of an attempt to target the GOP's election chances.

    If it all comes out at once, that would suggest a probably-naive, idealistic user who just believes in the Wikileaks ideal of "no secrets". If it's drip-fed week by week, that's someone trying to manipulate the news agenda. (This was my biggest beef with how Wikileaks itself handled the Clinton emails - the process they used simply wasn't consistent with their stated mission.)

    If it doesn't come out at all by the end of 2020, then it's either routine opposition research by - whoever, could be anyone from the DNC to Mossad - or it's someone trying to either blackmail the RNC or to sell them a security service, or both.

  2. Big John Silver badge

    Re: All we can do is wait

    If there were any damning emails they would have come out during the last election. They didn't because there is no there there, unlike with the DNC who were revealed to be colluding with Hillary Clinton to freeze out Bernie Sanders from the nomination.

  3. Voland's right hand Silver badge

    Re: All we can do is wait

    If it all comes out at once, that would suggest a probably-naive, idealistic user who just believes in the Wikileaks ideal of "no secrets".

    Extinct species AFAIK.

    If it's drip-fed week by week, that's someone trying to manipulate the news agenda.

    That's the norm. We will know who this is when we know who leaks it if it is leaked at all. There is an elephant in the room (pun intended) here - the Chinese have not leaked a single piece they have pinched and they have lifted quite a shedload over the years. Much more than anyone else.

  4. Lord Elpuss Silver badge

    Re: All we can do is wait

    @Big John

    "They didn't because there is no there there"

    Leaving aside the nonsensical sentence, how on earth do you know there's nothing there? Either you were involved in the hack yourself, or you're just another Trumpian blind follower with zero knowledge and enormous opinions. Either way, what you say can safely be discounted.

  5. Nick Kew Silver badge

    Re: All we can do is wait

    Surely a likely candidate is the party itself. Just like in the UK, the party whips ferret out party members' secrets to bully (even blackmail) them on important votes, so a party in the US or elsewhere will want whatever it can find to hold over its legislators when it matters.

    That would imply no (or very few) actual leaks. The power is in the threat.

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Re: All we can do is wait

    Big John is a Republic loser, so his opinion on things like this don't count one bit

  7. bombastic bob Silver badge
    Meh

    Re: All we can do is wait

    well, there could EASILY be a "there there" with the RNC. It's just possible that none of it would be a surprise, and so it would have little (if any) impact.

    We ARE talking about POLITICIANS, people who collect money from special interests in order to get re-elected over and over and over and over...

    There have been well-respected Republicans (as well as Demo[n,c][R,r]ats) who've been elected and respected, and later been indicted and convicted for campaign fund fraud (or other corruption), "Pay to Play" being one of the worst. Randy Cunningham, a Korean war veteran, was one such congress-dude from my area. Duncan Hunger Jr. (also from my area) is currently under investigation for 'irregularities' (i.e. using campaign funds for personal expenses) and may likely be convicted for it.

    Washington D.C. can ruin the morals of even the MOST morally straight people, with all of the money and corruption and opportunities these people are exposed to. "The Swamp" is no exaggeration.

    The only more CORRUPT town is Sacramento.

    In any case I'd like to know what OS and e-mail system that the RNC was using. If it had been ME setting it up, a traditional setup using Linux or FreeBSD and reasonably secure SMTP+IMAP would've been in use (sorta like how I got my home setup working, even with just the built-in/default sendmail (or Exim) and Cyrus port, using default settings and SOME level of security on the LAN, would probably do the job).

    and if it's an open source OS with open source e-mail/IMAP servers, maybe the NSA can get involved and produce special 'hardened' ones for government use?

  8. DougS Silver badge

    Re: All we can do is wait

    It isn't like there was much "there" there for DNC emails, other than the attempt to tilt the playing field in Hillary's favor. The RNC was openly discussing how to "stop Trump" in late spring, but it turned out they were too late - and their only alternative would have been Ted Cruz, who isn't exactly anyone's favorite. The revelation wasn't exactly news except for Bernie fans who were too young to realize what a dirty business politics is, or false outage from republicans who acted like the republican establishment had always been behind Trump once he won the nomination.

    Emails are probably stolen from politicians 10-20x more often than they are publicly released. The contents are far more valuable to use as leverage over individual politicians who will all say things they wouldn't want publicly aired in "private" conversation. Especially for foreign governments, who like to have something to influence the decisions of lawmakers should things come to a vote like sanctions, tariffs, arms deals with countries they are not aligned with, etc. Won't matter when the decision is clear, but in a close vote they don't need to have influence over many to swing things their way.

  9. mosw

    Re: All we can do is wait

    >"there is no there there, unlike with the DNC who were revealed to be colluding with Hillary Clinton"

    Unless the DNC or Clinton are a foreign entity then there is no crime there. It is normal politics for either the Democrat or Republican parties to discretely help whichever candidate they consider more electable.

    With respect to the stolen Republican emails, the thief may be more interested in blackmailing elected officials, in which case they are only valuable so long as they are kept secret.

  10. HolySchmoley

    Re: All we can do is wait

    What?!!!

    Are you saying that politicians play politics to line their pockets?

    Whodathunkit?

  11. CrazyOldCatMan Silver badge

    Re: All we can do is wait

    how on earth do you know there's nothing there?

    Because he's a True Believer who can't believe that the Repubs can ever do any wrong..

    In other words - another symptom of the political dysfunction and tribalism currently infecting Western democracies.

  12. a_yank_lurker Silver badge

    The Russians are Coming!!!

    I wonder if the various incompetents in the US media will realize Ivan is an equal opportunity hacker; they will hack anybody they think is useful. Just that the donkeys are slightly more incompetent than the elephants means the donkeys get hit first.

  13. AMBxx Silver badge
    Unhappy

    Re: The Russians are Coming!!!

    You make a good point in a poor way. I'm assuming that's the reason for so many down votes.

    The Russians don't really care about the results of any election or referendum. They just want to stir up trouble. Sadly, they're doing a good job.

  14. Dan 55 Silver badge
    Black Helicopters

    Re: The Russians are Coming!!!

    See also: hijacking of yellow vest movement in France, efforts to spread it to Germany.

    And I think the worst thing is, I'm not really surprised at all by it.

  15. Voland's right hand Silver badge

    Re: The Russians are Coming!!!

    See also: hijacking of yellow vest movement in France,

    Their opinion on the subject right out of their mouths: Translation: "What if Medvedev will start handing out food and Lavrov vodka to the protesters in Paris". Unfortunately they have a point - we did _EXACTLY_ _THAT_ in Ukraine. Namely Victoria Nuland who was the Assistant US Secretary of state did that.

    As far as hijacking - you are 100% spot on. As someone who has had to run a protest once upon a time, the number of RT casualties (12 people from RT in need of medical attention) is possible only if they actively participated. There is no way in hell to achieve that number if you are just observing and reporting.

    It is the way war is fought today. There is no "Wikileaks ideals" any more - any release is stage managed and all of the release vectors are owned by one of the sides. They are timed to particular news items so that everything is massaged, perverted and serves an associated campaign.

    The fact that we do not see the GOP items today does not mean anything regarding who got them. What it means is that their allocated timeslot in the particular campaign has not come yet.

  16. bombastic bob Silver badge
    Trollface

    Re: The Russians are Coming!!!

    "You make a good point in a poor way. I'm assuming that's the reason for so many down votes."

    Naw, it's just the usual howler monkeys downvoting for the usual reasons (some might be members of my 'fan club' heh so I expect the same here). I gave him an upvote [because I 'got' the humor, for one]

  17. Voland's right hand Silver badge

    Re: The Russians are Coming!!!

    I wonder if the various incompetents in the US media will realize Ivan is an equal opportunity hacker

    First of all, Ivan happens also to be quintessential Bulgarian, Macedonian, Ukrainian, Belorussian and to a slightly lesser extent Serbian, Croatian and other Slavic nations name.

    Second, Hassan, Pedro, John, Yin and Prasad are all equal opportunity hackers too. The biggest fake news operations in the USA elections of 2016 were run out of the Albanian speaking areas of Macedonia. This includes the infamous "paedo ring in a pizzeria" conspiracy theory. So that one was probably Besim, not Ivan.

    Third, as I keep on saying, this is the way war is fought now. Very nice summary in the NY Times: "Meet the KGB spies who conceived this virus and the American truth squads who tried — and are still trying — to fight it".

    Cough... Cough... Sputter... If anyone holds priority rights on this invention that's Herr Goebels and Tovarish Stalin. Compared to some of Stalin fake news campaigns what we see today is a boy scout play.

    As far as any difference between a "Truth Squad" run out of Tampa or an "Internet Research Agency" operation run out of St Petersburg or "Integrity Initiative" run from one well known building on the Thames, there is no difference. They are the same weapon, just held in the hands on the other side of the front line the way an AK47 is held by both sides in most worldwide conflicts. In all cases the first casualty in the gunfight is the actual truth. The real one. The one you see dying of blood loss in the ditch on the side of the information superhighway.

  18. DougS Silver badge

    Re: The Russians are Coming!!!

    The Russians don't really care about the results of any election

    They did care abou the results of the 2016 presidential election - Putin even said so. But the reasons for wanting Trump mostly evaporated once Hillary lost and things were out in the open. Everyone is watching now so he can't do them any backdoor favors like lifting the Magnitsky sanctions.

    So it is quite possible Russia wanted the outcome of the recent election with democrats winning the house, to guarantee Trump would be tied up with congressional investigations for the rest of his term, because that will distract him and make him even more volatile and unstable.

    Hell, they'd probably like to see him impeached now, since that would really throw the US government into chaos for a time - so they could have a reason to provide far more help to Mueller's investigation than Trump may assume they will. Heck, if Putin REALLY is as smart as some claim, he might have colluded with Trump with the intention of making the evidence available later that would lead to his impeachment!

  19. This post has been deleted by its author

  20. veti Silver badge

    Re: The Russians are Coming!!!

    If Trump gets impeached, there'll be a President Pence. I don't think either the Russians or the Democrats want that (although he'd certainly be easier to run against in 2020).

  21. CrazyOldCatMan Silver badge

    Re: The Russians are Coming!!!

    If Trump gets impeached, there'll be a President Pence

    Which is a truely, truely scary prospect. He's as evil as Trump but about 100 times more competent.

  22. Boo Radley

    Re: The Russians are Coming!!!

    So very true, with Pence as president we'd all be forced back to the puritan values of the 1600s, with any kind of sex being illegal and punishable by death. Huh, just like in the Middle East :-(

  23. JustWondering
    Meh

    No worries

    "though the Kremlin has claimed that if it were responsible, it would be protected from legal action."

    Has Trump already promised them a pardon?

    This "if we did it" is very reminiscent of OJ.

  24. Old Used Programmer

    Re: No worries

    It's probably just pointing out that US law doesn't reach into Russia and, if anyone tries anything, they'll claim sovereign immunity. The only thing that will happen will be a few more Russians who wn't be traveling much.

  25. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    This kind of thing will happen when the NRCC Admin password is

    'cheesburger'

  26. Aladdin Sane Silver badge

    Re: This kind of thing will happen when the NRCC Admin password is

    I can haz?

  27. Andrew Moore Silver badge

    No mention of Rudy Giuliani's twitter "hack" (according to him)- he left a typo (left out a space after a full stop) which turned the typo into a link which directed people to an appropriate message: https://twitter.com/RudyGiuliani/status/1068570837459050496

  28. ElReg!comments!Pierre

    Hillarious. I now feel the urge to trawl social media for badly-constructed posts, and register the appropriate domains!

  29. Herring`

    What's interesting is that Trump appointed Giuliani as "Cybersecurity adviser". I suppose that chimes with him appointing people who know fuck-all about science to science positions.

  30. Comments are attributed to your handle
    Holmes

    Giuliani was very surprised to hear about the hack. He thought he'd taken enough precautions by always only browsing in Incognito mode.

  31. bombastic bob Silver badge
    Thumb Down

    "I suppose that chimes with him appointing people who know fuck-all about science to science positions."

    I was laughing until I hit that part. you just HAD to go there...

    (I'm going to resist the troll-bait and NOT bite on it)

  32. HolySchmoley

    "What's interesting is that Trump appointed Giuliani as "Cybersecurity adviser". I suppose that chimes with him appointing people who know fuck-all about science to science positions." (*)

    And people who know fuck-all about politics, the world, science, culture, most civilised things to political positions?

    (*) Upvoted.

  33. Mike 16 Bronze badge

    Hacks R us

    When someone (probably senior, but they'll find an intern to blame) forgets to renew the contract with a "security consultant", you can expect said consultant to go looking for other customers. "Business is Business".

    But I totally agree that it is far more likely the contractors were not merely out for monetary rewards for services rendered.

    Electing someone who owes us money: Maybe a few hundred million dollars

    Sowing chaos in the 'Free World': Priceless!

  34. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

    Will someone point out to them that insisting on back doors in communications will make this more likely if you get them. Be careful what you wish for; you might get it.

  35. Mark 85 Silver badge

    The NRCC did not respond to a Register request for comment.

    If (big if) they do respond it will be the usual "we take security very seriously" response. Just as well they don't as it just wastes readers' time.

  36. Palpy

    Possible Russian strategies.

    Of course there is NO finger pointing at Fancy Bear, the FSB, et al so far in this hack. AFAIK, responsibility is still unknown, at least to the public.

    But my understanding is that Russia, in particular, wishes to show that Western democracy is a sham and a lie. Putin would like the world to believe that the US government, in particular, is more corrupt than the Russian oligarchy which he leads. Not to mention the military value of strategically disrupting NATO.*

    With that in mind, it makes sense for the Russians to now hack-and-leak damaging information about the RNC. Because Putin is not concerned with delegitimizing a particular party but with US government in general, it makes sense for him to now turn to the Republicans. In the words of Roger Stone, it will soon be the RNC's time in the barrel.

    Or, put another way, once once you punch your opponent on the left side of the head, then you hit him on the right.

    If Fancy Bear et al were not responsible for the hack, then I'll bet the FSB is already trying to buy the information from whomever has it.

    * UNDERMINING DEMOCRATIC INSTITUTIONS AND SPLINTERING NATO: RUSSIAN DISINFORMATION AIMS, US House Committee on Foreign Affairs, March 9, 2017. (PDF)

    More readable: Trump, Putin, and the New Cold War, The New Yorker. (Paywalled if you view more than three articles.)

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