Cybersecurity expert Morgan Wright of IdentitySecurity joined Monday’s Breitbart News Daily with SiriusXM host Stephen K. Bannon to discuss the latest batch of leaked Democratic National Committee emails, which demonstrated active collusion between the DNC, the mainstream media, and Hillary Clinton’s campaign against her rival in the primaries, Bernie Sanders.
“What this shows is that bits and bytes can take chunks out of anybody’s political strategy,” said Wright, adding:
Information is power. Our adversaries know that. The Russians, the Chinese, the North Koreans, the Syrians, all these folks – the reason the Internet is so powerful is because now, the Internet has no concept of distance, so our adversaries can reach out and touch us.
“Whether this is orchestrated by Russia or not – there’s a lot of indications that maybe the FSB, the internal security, used to be the KGB back in the day, that they’re behind this. They have the technical capability, and they certainly have the political desire to do something,” Wright said. “But you know, what it boils down to is ones and zeroes don’t care about Rs and Ds. If you’ve got poor security, things like this are gonna happen, and when they happen, these are your deepest, darkest conversations and secrets.”
“People forget that email isn’t secure,” he pointed out. “They think it is, but it’s not, and eventually something like this comes out, and then you have to deal with the aftermath.”
By “poor security,” Wright meant such practices as writing long, complicated passwords down on paper, thus potentially exposing them to unfriendly eyes, and sharing sensitive material in group emails that dramatically increased exposure.
He recalled Secretary of State John Kerry once saying that he “assumes the Russians and Chinese are reading his email.”
“Well, if they’re reading his email, you can be sure that they’re reading the DNC, the RNC’s email, everybody’s email,” Wright pointed out. Instead of implementing authentication systems that might have protected their communications, DNC staffers “just took it for granted that everything they were seeing on email was secure.”
“That’s like talking in the middle of a room between the FBI, the KGB, and the Chinese, and assuming that your conversation is intact. It never is,” he warned.
Wright said he had “no doubt” that emails from Hillary Clinton’s tenure as secretary of state, including the thousands she deleted, plus sensitive material from organizations such as the Clinton Foundation was in the hands of adversarial intelligence services, awaiting disclosure.
“The original Guccifer, he turned out to be not so credible about what he said,” Wright noted, referring to the Romanian hacker’s claims to have penetrated Clinton’s email servers. However, he said the more sophisticated, possibly state-sponsored hackers behind the DNC leak – who have been identifying themselves as “Guccifer 2.0” – probably do have such damaging documents in their possession.
“You have to remember, the way we found out about this was the original Guccifer hacked Sidney Blumenthal’s AOL account. In that AOL account was the ClintonEmail.com; that’s the first time we became aware of it,” he recalled.
Based on his experience with cyber-intelligence operations, he said that was the sort of discovery that would prompt hackers and foreign intelligence services to conduct follow-up attacks, to mine the ClintonEmail.com server for useful information, and the “poor security” set up by relative novices working for Hillary Clinton wouldn’t have been much of an obstacle to them.
Those measures wouldn’t be much of an obstacle to U.S. government cyber-spies, either, which raises the interesting question of whether agencies like the NSA detected and penetrated Hillary Clinton’s email server – and, if so, why they didn’t make the information they obtained available to FBI or State Department investigators.
“Whether or not they got into it, that would have been more of a policy issue, and I kinda doubt they would have wanted to be in the position of targeting a current secretary of state’s server, even if it’s not legal, the server itself,” Wright surmised.
However, he agreed with Bannon’s idea that American cyber-intelligence agencies might have been interested in following what foreign intelligence services were doing, which could very well have led them to Clinton’s illicit email server, hot on the heels of foreign hackers.
Did they know that the Russians would have been in there? My thought is that they should have known, but here’s the reason I don’t believe they did: because if they did, one of the things they would have done is some kind of referral, at a minimum, back into the U.S. – whether it would have been FBI or Secret Service, who was guarding the compound where the server was.
He continued, “Now, they wouldn’t want to tip their hands that they knew, but at the same time, they would have had to take counter-measures, to prevent the exposure of classified information.”
Which begs the question: if they knew the traffic that was going across there, and they saw it was classified – especially the highly classified stuff, the sensitive compartmented information, the special access program; you hear people call that TS-SCI or SAP information – if they would have seen that, it would have been criminal for them not to make a referral to say, “We see classified information going out.” So I think they may have missed this.
“They might be monitoring the Russians, but I don’t know that they can see everything that the Russians or the Chinese do. If they did, we wouldn’t have had the exfiltration of the OPM data breach.” Wright added, “I was one of the ones that had their security clearance exposed on that. So I think we’ve missed the opportunities to stop some of this.”
Wright is the author of a forthcoming book on cyber-security called Identity Predators: How to Win the War Against Hackers, Scammers, and Thieves, and maintains his own cyber-security blog at MorganWright.us.
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