The nation’s top spy said Wednesday that hackers, possibly working for foreign governments, are trying to spy on the Democratic and Republican presidential campaigns.
“We’ve already had some indications of that,” said James Clapper, the director of national intelligence, according to AP. “As the campaigns intensify, we’ll probably have more.”
Clapper did not offer details on specific intrusions, nor did he offer attribution to any hacker group or state. But the revelation is not totally surprising: The Chinese government reportedly hacked both Obama and McCain in 2008, and hackers tried repeatedly to break into the campaign accounts of Obama and Romney in 2012.
The Romney campaign was “under constant attack,” Digital Director Zac Moffatt told Time Magazine. “Four or five times a week.”
According to CNN, Clapper said both the FBI and DHS were working to educate the campaigns about cyber threats.
Hackers working for foreign governments can gain valuable insight into a presidential candidate’s mindset before they take office, or uncover private communications that might give their country a leg up in diplomatic negotiations. In 2008, for example, a letter Sen. John McCain sent to the president of Taiwan was intercepted by hackers from China.
And on the flip side, the US government does much the same thing to many world leaders, as the massive leaks out of the National Security Agency from former contractor Edward Snowden have demonstrated.
The Clinton and Trump campaigns did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
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