Report: 'Foreign entity' hacked Obama, McCain PCs

Newsweek says feds told Obama's team it had 'a problem way bigger than you understand'

Computer systems used by the election campaigns of both President-elect Barack Obama and his Republican rival John McCain were broken into earlier this year, and a large number of files related to the evolving policy positions of the two candidates were stolen, according to a story posted online Wednesday by Newsweek magazine.

The attacks appear to have been perpetrated by an unidentified "foreign entity" looking to steal information that might be useful in future negotiations with the next American president, Newsweek reported, quoting several unnamed sources.

According to Newsweek, the attacks happened sometime around midyear and were reported to the Obama and McCain campaigns by the US Secret Service, the FBI and even the White House. The story doesn't detail how the feds learned about the intrusions but says they assured the Obama camp that the break-ins didn't appear to be the work of his political opponents. Obama's team was also informed that the McCain campaign's computers had similarly been broken into, the story says.

A spokesman in McCain's press office said Wednesday that he didn't have any information about the reported breaching of the Arizona senator's campaign systems. Obama's press office didn't immediately respond to inquiries about the Newsweek story.

But the former director of technology for the 2004 presidential campaign of Dennis Kucinich voiced skepticism Wednesday about some of the claims made in the story and said that it omits some important information.

For example, it isn't clear from the story whether the servers running the campaign Web sites were broken into or if the hacking targeted other systems, such as e-mail servers, said Henry Poole, who now is a partner at CivicActions, a firm that offers Internet campaign consulting services.

It's unlikely that either campaign would have stored sensitive data on the same servers that were being used for public campaigning purposes, Poole said. Typically, he added, all e-commerce activity on campaign Web sites -- including online donations -- is heavily secured, while other portions of the sites may not be as well protected. "It wasn't clear to me at all what was compromised," he said.

In addition, while it's understandable that the FBI and Secret Service would be involved in investigating such intrusions, it isn't at all clear why the White House would be involved, Poole said.

Join the newsletter!

Or

Sign up to gain exclusive access to email subscriptions, event invitations, competitions, giveaways, and much more.

Membership is free, and your security and privacy remain protected. View our privacy policy before signing up.

Error: Please check your email address.

Tags hackersBarack Obamasarah palinJohn McCain

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Jaikumar Vijayan

Computerworld (US)
Show Comments

Brand Post

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Luke Hill

MSI GT75 TITAN

I need power and lots of it. As a Front End Web developer anything less just won’t cut it which is why the MSI GT75 is an outstanding laptop for me. It’s a sleek and futuristic looking, high quality, beast that has a touch of sci-fi flare about it.

Emily Tyson

MSI GE63 Raider

If you’re looking to invest in your next work horse laptop for work or home use, you can’t go wrong with the MSI GE63.

Laura Johnston

MSI GS65 Stealth Thin

If you can afford the price tag, it is well worth the money. It out performs any other laptop I have tried for gaming, and the transportable design and incredible display also make it ideal for work.

Andrew Teoh

Brother MFC-L9570CDW Multifunction Printer

Touch screen visibility and operation was great and easy to navigate. Each menu and sub-menu was in an understandable order and category

Louise Coady

Brother MFC-L9570CDW Multifunction Printer

The printer was convenient, produced clear and vibrant images and was very easy to use

Edwina Hargreaves

WD My Cloud Home

I would recommend this device for families and small businesses who want one safe place to store all their important digital content and a way to easily share it with friends, family, business partners, or customers.

Featured Content

Product Launch Showcase

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?