back to article A year in infosec: Bears, botnets, breaches ... and elections

How often can we say that an IT blunder might have changed the course of world history? Hillary Clinton’s use of a private email server whilst serving as outgoing US President Barack Obama’s Secretary of State became a key element in the US presidential election this year. The FBI investigation around Clinton’s use of a …

  1. allthecoolshortnamesweretaken

    "How often can we say that an IT blunder might have changed the course of world history?"

    In the foreseeable future? Every other month or so.

    1. Mark 85 Silver badge

      Welcome to the new "normal"... or maybe SNAFU...?

      1. ecofeco Silver badge

        Normal indeed.

  2. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge
    Holmes

    "We have evidence..."!

    Do I repeat myself by saying the leaks were not a hack?

    Meanwhile, fear of an aging, hackable, launch-on-warning planet-busting Minuteman III missile force (another toxic leftover from the cold war that Obama chose not to tackle)

    1. Tom Paine

      Re: "We have evidence..."!

      Do I repeat myself by saying the leaks were not a hack?

      Er, could you say more about that? In what way is the exfiltration and public release of confidential data a "hack" in colloquial English? What, in short, are you on about?

      1. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge
        Holmes

        Re: "We have evidence..."!

        This: The CIA’s Absence of Conviction and This: Russia-Hack Story, Another Media Failure.

        "Such is live in the ZoneInfowars."

        1. Matt Bryant Silver badge
          Meh

          Re: DAM Re: "We have evidence..."!

          The current hysterics from Dummicrat Central are simply an attempt to hide the facts exposed by the "hacking"/leaks. Obambi and co are waving their arms wildly in the hope of distracting the public from th the fact (a) they lost the election, and (b) they screwed Bernie over during the process, the candidate who would probably have won them the election, and (c) Shrillary was busy saying one thing to the Left for votes whilst cuddling up to Wall Street for contributions, and the DNC knew. The support from certain Republicans for blaming Putin is simply because they think Obambi has been weak on dealing with Russian, Chinese and Nork hacking. They see Obambi as the POTUS that gave up US control of the Internet and they'd love to take it back.

        2. Tom Paine

          Re: "We have evidence..."!

          Craig Murray is your evidence? That well-known expert in incident response and forensics? Really??

          Do me a favour!

  3. Jan 0 Silver badge

    What's so wrong about a private email server?

    I know that the great unwashed will think that nothing could be safer than a government email server, but I'd guess that most ElRegistas would choose a personal email server over a government one. I may not like Hilary Clinton, but she appears to be shrewd when it comes to computer security. ("If a job's worth doing, do it yourself".)

    1. MK_E

      Re: What's so wrong about a private email server?

      The first thing that came to mind was the scene from Devil's Advocate when Keanu Reeves walks in on his manager shredding a load of documents.

    2. TAJW

      Re: What's so wrong about a private email server?

      Perhaps you missed the part where her email server, on which she had sent classified documents, in direct violation of the law, was compromised. That is what is wrong with a personal email server. It's also what is wrong with sending classified documents through public email and not via secure means. Which pretty much shows you her lack of technical skill and basic understanding, or, worse yet, her lack of concern with doing it.

      Either scenario is pretty bad and would have put anyone else....well, maybe anyone not a liberal... in jail for many years.

      1. herman Silver badge

        Re: What's so wrong about a private email server?

        You forgot the part about the crafty Sting operation. The documents in question were classified Secret RETROACTIVELY. They were not classified as such at the time that she sent/received them.

      2. Tom Paine

        Re: What's so wrong about a private email server?

        Perhaps you missed the part where her email server, on which she had sent classified documents, in direct violation of the law, was compromised.

        No, it really wasn't. One account was compromised, presumably through phishing or a password of "Hillary 2016" or something.

        That's not to say it wasn't a bloody stupid thing to do.

    3. ProgrammerForHire

      Re: What's so wrong about a private email server?

      Nothing is wrong, except the fact that no bureaucracy/ state in the world accepts this, also you are supposed to provide the logs and traces of what you did during your term, so you can be accountable if anything goes wrong. Not doing so is very much akin to hiding and / or deleting murder evidence.

      This is not an ordinary job, but speaking of that, how many companies accept using outside mail accounts to do company business ?

      1. Tom Paine

        Re: What's so wrong about a private email server?

        What bollocks. Every democracy and legislature in the world enables politicians, including those in government, to have secret off-the-record communications -- as far as I know. If the US doesn't , that's just another way their democracy is fundamentally broken, as is surely obvious to anyone with an interest in the practice of day-to-day politics.

    4. Daniel B.

      Re: What's so wrong about a private email server?

      You're actually right and wrong at the same time.

      The Trump Trolls are right in the whole thing concerning sensitive stuff being sent to/from a private server... even though they're overlooking that the classified stuff was reclassified into the sensitive class after the fact. But...

      Hillary had to fire up a private server for her campaign promotion stuff due to the Hatch Act (the one that you may remember was recently aimed at Comey). It forbids use of government resources for political campaigns. Thus *not* using a private server for that stuff would've actually had Hillary breaching the Hatch Act.

      Of course, this all may have been avoided if she had simply not done that crap until she stopped working for the Obama Administration.

    5. Tom Paine

      Re: What's so wrong about a private email server?

      Partly security, but mostly archives and government record keeping issues - vis., the alleged 30,000 missing mails Trump kept yammering on about.

  4. Mikel

    Infosec

    Oxymoron

  5. richalt2

    It is not proper to say Russian hacks interferred in the election. Any newspaper discovering the same emails would have been published as the scoop of the year! The information is generally believed accurate and properly aided people in making informed votes.

    1. veti Silver badge

      It's an exaggeration to say that "the information is generally believed accurate".

      The leaked emails are generally believed to be genuine. But how many people actually read them? Hands up if you've ever been to Wikileaks and read them for yourself?

      What most people read, or watched, or heard, was news stories based on someone else's reading of one or more of the emails, and (very) selectively quoting from them. And those stories were the most misleading things I've seen all year (and seriously, it's been a biiig year for that kind of shit).

      1. Matt Bryant Silver badge
        Stop

        Re: veti

        ".....Hands up if you've ever been to Wikileaks and read them for yourself?....." I have an old PC that boots off a read-only Linux CD for when I go wading in such malware-riddled cesspools as Dickileaks. In this case, all the floating turds were both evidently genuine and under-reported by the mainstream media. But even normally pro-Clinton, Leftie rags had to grudgingly admit the Podesta emails' damning contents, and how the DNC blatantly lied about being caught. Just imagine how much more vitriolic, triumphant and damning The Guardian would have been if the similar material had been leaked from a Tory or Republican campaign manager's emails!

        The same mainstream media is now happily jumping at the chance of helping Obambi blame everything on Pootie rather than asking embarrassing questions of how the DNC could be involved in such nefarious activities, how the DNC got a free ride over lying about being caught, how much Obambi himself knew about said activities, nor how Obambi could spend the last few months of the election plugging away for Shrillary after such activities had been exposed. Yes, I'm certain the neo-Soviets do spend plenty of time trying to hack the US, but in concentrating on that there is a definite denial going on that there is something very rotten at the core of the Democrat Party. Ironically, by doing so and not publicly fixing their own problems, the DNC and mainstream media will probably end up guaranteeing eight rather than four years of a Republican-dominated House and POTUS.

        1. Tom Paine

          Re: veti

          For heaven's sake, stop mutating politician's names and parties into "witty" neologisms like "Shrillery". It's not big, it's not clever, and it's certainly not remotely funny. It just makes you sound like a ten year old. Grow up!

    2. Tom Paine

      But if the newspaper had hacked the computer (1) it would obviously affect the outcome of the election, as the Russian actions did, and (2) they'd all be going to jail, quite rightly, for hacking.

  6. ProgrammerForHire

    Blunder ?

    "How often can we say that an IT blunder might have changed the course of world history? Hillary Clinton’s use of a private email server whilst serving as outgoing US President Barack Obama’s Secretary of State became a key element in the US presidential election this year."

    For the love of Barrack, this was not a blunder. A blunder is when you forget to log out your email on a public computer. Being a high gov official and using outside technology to hide your activity , with good knowledge of what you're doing , is criminal and treason for all purposes

    1. Tom Paine

      Re: Blunder ?

      Rubbish. This was campaigning stuff, not government business,and as someone pointed out up-thread, it would have been illegal for her to do it on government systems. Get your head out of Breitbart.

  7. ShortLegs

    Oh for Gawds sake

    "The FBI investigation around Clinton’s use of a private email server while serving as the US’s top diplomat arguably tipped the balance against her in the US president election and granted leadership of the "free world" to Donald Trump."

    Arguably? Can you argue how it tipped the balance? Other than tracker polls, what evidence is there for this statement? Polls have been really, really accurate indicators recently, haven't they; correctly predicting the outcome of Scot IndeyRef, the 2015 UK election, and Brexit.

    "The leaks fuelled the idea that Clinton was given preferential treatment by party officials and that Democratic nomination contender Bernie Sanders was deliberately sidelined."

    Fuelled an [i]idea[/i]? It wasn't an [i]idea[/i] that was fuelled, it was revealed that Clinton [i]had[/i] been given preferential treatment, and Sanders [i]had[/i] been sidelined. Not an idea, not a notion, not a theory, but FACTS.

    El Reg is becoming as partisan as ArsTechnica.

    1. Daniel B.
      Alert

      Hm...

      Polls in the US were pretty much on the mark except for certain states that (gasp) ended up flipping the election. In fact, Nate Silver warned there was a good chance this would happen because there was little to no polling in those states as they were considered "solid blue". In fact, the "winning" percentage in all of these were dangerously close to the margin of error.

      The polls themselves might have flipped the election as well. Everyone took for granted that the states showing up as blue would remain blue, thus the "Bernie or Bust" crowd felt they could go third party or simply stay home. Which is also what happened during Brexit.

      Lesson learned in 2016: Your vote matters. Don't skip it.

    2. Tom Paine

      Polls have been really, really accurate indicators recently, haven't they; correctly predicting the outcome of Scot IndeyRef, the 2015 UK election, and Brexit.

      Yes, yes they have, actually, contrary to popular mythology. Here's a free clue: google "margin of error" amd "statistical probability". YVW.

  8. Prst. V.Jeltz Silver badge
    Thumb Down

    PVR?

    Thumbs down for calling a DVR a PVR.

    Whichever asshat made the initial name seems to have been overruled by good sense

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