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Russia-linked hackers tried to access Hillary Clinton's private email

Russia-linked hackers tried to access Hillary Clinton's private emailThe risks posed by Hillary Clinton’s use of a private email server while US secretary of state have been dramatically underscored by the disclosure of five attempts to break into her computer by hackers apparently based in Russia.

Disguised as New York City parking tickets, the malicious emails were contained in the latest tranche of records released by the State Department amid growing concern that Clinton’s decision to avoid using government servers may have made classified information vulnerable to exposure.

There is no indication that this particular attempt was successful or that the suspicious zip files were opened by Clinton, but her personal email address was a tightly-held secret and the attempt raises the question of whether she was specifically targeted.

The five emails do not contain identifying marks beyond the fake New York police address but include the instructions “to plead, print out the enclosed ticket” and an attached file named “Ticket-728-2011.zip”.

The Associated Press reported on Wednesday evening that the zip file contained malicious software, directing an infected computer to transmit information to three addresses overseas, including one in Russia.

There is no evidence that the attempt to compromise Clinton’s account, which resembles “phishing” techniques often used by fraudsters, involved the Russian government but it does appear to have been specifically aimed at residents of New York even though there is no clue to her physical location contained in Clinton’s email address, hrod17@clintonemail.com.

The five emails received in close succession in August 2011 contain directions to reply to a court in the misspelled New York town of “Chatam”, or Chatham - a two hour drive from the Clinton family home in Chappaqua.

The FBI is currently examining the server used by Clinton during her time as secretary of state to assess whether any classified information was contained in the thousands of emails she received.

The former secretary of state has insisted that she did not send or receive any classified emails, but the status of some information has subsequently been challenged by inspectors working for the US intelligence community.

The Clinton campaign insisted on Wednesday that the five suspicious emails were not necessarily proof of a hacking attempt.

The campaign said they were simply spam, although there have been no other obvious spam in the disclosures so far.

“We have no evidence to suggest she replied to this email nor that she clicked on the attachment,” spokesman Nick Merrill told Politico. “As we have said before, there is no evidence that the system was ever breached. All these emails show is that, like millions of other Americans, she received spam.”

Among the 6,000 pages released in the latest monthly dump on Wednesday were emails discussing phone calls made by Barack Obama from the White House situation room to foreign leaders and an assessment of Russian negotiating strategy at the United Nations.

Critcism of Clinton’s use of a private server, which many believe was designed to circumvent government freedom of information rules, has already heavily overshadowed her attempt to win the Democratic presidential nomination.

The apparent Russian hacking attempt also follows several high profile breaches of State Department and White House computers that have been blamed on the Chinese and led to a major review of IT security in Washington.

Source: Guardian
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