Republican National Committee denies hacking by Russians

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The GOP denied reports alleging Russian government hackers breached the Republican National Committee last week. 

GOP spokesperson Danielle Alvarez said on Twitter that a Bloomberg news agency report Tuesday, which alleged that Russian-directed hackers breached the RNC, is not true.

Bloomberg had claimed that hackers from APT29, which is also known as Cozy Bear and is affiliated with the Russian Foreign Intelligence Service (SVR), had breached the RNC’s computer systems. 

The GOP shared a statement on Twitter from RNC chief of staff Richard Walters stating no data was accessed. 

“Over the weekend, we were informed that Synnex, a third-party provider, had been breached. We immediately blocked all access from Synnex accounts to our cloud environment,” said Mr. Walters in the statement. “Our team worked with Microsoft to conduct a review of our systems and after a thorough investigation, no RNC data was accessed. We will continue to work with Microsoft, as well as federal law enforcement officials on this matter.”

The news agency had reported over the weekend that the RNC was on alert over a ransomware attack hitting the software company Kaseya. 

Bloomberg’s Jennifer Jacobs reported then that there was no indication that the RNC was hacked but that Microsoft had told the RNC one of its vendor systems may have been exposed. 

On Tuesday, Bloomberg reported that the RNC was hacked but it did not know what hackers viewed or stole, if anything.

Microsoft declined to answer questions about the claims of a hack against the RNC. 

“We can’t talk about the specifics of any particular case without customer permission,” said a Microsoft spokesperson in a statement. “We continue to track malicious activity from nation-state actors — as we do routinely — and notify impacted customers through our nation-state notification process.” 

State-sponsored hacking aimed at political entities is not new. Before the 2020 election, Google said it discovered attempts by an Iran-backed group to attack former President Donald Trump’s campaign and a Chinese group targeting President Biden’s campaign. 

In October 2020, the Wisconsin GOP said it fell victim to hackers who stole $2.3 million through doctored invoices. 

Russian hackers have also previously targeted the Democratic National Committee as far back as the summer of 2015, according to cybersecurity company Crowdstrike. 

Political parties’ influence over public policy makes them an ideal espionage target for hackers, according to John Hultquist, vice president at cybersecurity firm FireEye’s Mandiant division. 

“Though these organizations have been famously involved in aggressive hack and leak campaigns, more often than not, Russian hackers and others target them to quietly gather intelligence,” said Mr. Hultquist in a statement. “While GRU actors made a big splash with the data they’d taken from the DNC in 2016 they were not alone. APT29 had also infiltrated that network in an operation that is more typical of cyber espionage.”

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