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FBI Widens Investigation into Russian Attacks on Democrats

The hack at the US Democratic National Committee is expanding in scope and repercussions—it now appears that hackers have compromised over 100 email accounts tied to officials and groups from the Democratic party—not just the DNC and the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee.

The widening scope of the attack has prompted the FBI to broaden its investigation, with agents notifying a long list of Democratic officials that the Russians may have breached their personal accounts. So far, names have not been named as far as who or what other organizations have been compromised.

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi said that the DNC hack was a “Watergate-like electronic break in. And anyone who would exploit for the purpose of embarrassment or something like that is an accomplice to that.”

The consequences could be far-ranging. “Stolen donor lists are one thing, but the fact that over 100 private email accounts were compromised could elevate this situation from disastrous to catastrophic,” said Vishal Gupta, CEO of Seclore, said via email. “These emails likely contain highly sensitive information that may solidify the notion that this breach poses a legitimate risk to the integrity of our election process.”

Just as the Democratic National Convention started up in Philadelphia last month, Wikileaks began publishing emails purportedly coming from DNC officials; more than 19,000 of them, in a searchable database.

The event kicked off a chain of events. The missives show a distinct bias within the DNC for presumptive Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton over her main rival in the primaries, Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont. Considering that the party national committees are tasked with holding no opinion themselves, but rather are meant to serve as administrative arms that ensure that voters’ rights are protected and that their wishes are carried out, the revelation was significant for many. This is especially relevant in light of the controversy over Clinton’s top-heavy super-delegate count—a state of affairs widely seen as orchestrated by DNC Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz. Wasserman Schultz, a polarizing figure both within and without the party, announced her resignation in the wake of the revelations.

Ironically, one of the leaked mails showed that the DNC staff scoffed at the idea that the organization could be hacked.

Clinton postulated that the Russian hackers were attempting to swing the election to Trump, because of his anti-NATO statements. Responding, GOP presidential nominee Donald Trump then shocked many by inviting Vladimir Putin to “find” Hillary Clinton’s deleted emails—a statement he claims he said sarcastically.

Shortly after the DNC hack came to light, the FBI uncovered another cyberattack, on the DCCC. The DCCC raises money for Democrats running for seats in the U.S. House of Representatives. As far back as June, the attackers set up a bogus website with a name closely resembling that of a main donation site connected to the DCCC. From there, they proceeded to harvest data as visitors provided their information (including names and email addresses) and credit-card info to donate.

For now, we’re not sure how far the hacking has gone. The danger of that is significant, according to Gupta: “Depending on how the emails’ contents were secured (likely not well enough), the information gathered by Russia could rightly be considered a threat to national security. This further buttresses the need for data centric security as the last of defense in an increasingly borderless world.”

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