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FBI Probing Cyber Attack on Congressional Campaign in California

FBI Probing Cyber Attack on Congressional Campaign in CaliforniaFBI Probing Cyber Attack on Congressional Campaign in California

The US Federal Bureau of Investigation is investigating a cyber attack on the congressional campaign of a Democratic candidate in California, according to three people close to the campaign.

The hackers successfully infiltrated the election campaign computer of David Min, a Democratic candidate for the House of Representatives who was later defeated in the June primary for California’s 45th Congressional district, Reuters reported.

The incident, which has not been previously reported, follows an article in Rolling Stone earlier this week that the FBI has also been investigating a cyber attack against Hans Keirstead, a California Democrat. He was defeated in a primary in the 48th Congressional district, neighboring Min’s.

Paige Hutchinson, Min’s former campaign manager, declined to comment. An FBI spokeswoman said the bureau cannot confirm or deny an investigation.

While both Min and Keirstead later lost to other primary challengers from their own party, the two closely-watched races are considered critical, competitive battlegrounds as the Democrats seek to win back Congress from Republicans in November.

It is unclear who was behind the attack against Min’s campaign, why it was carried out and what the hackers did with any information they obtained. But details of the hack, described to Reuters by people with direct knowledge of the case, highlight the concerns of national security experts who fear that campaigns are woefully unprotected as the November mid-term elections approach.

It also illustrates how small political campaigns do not have the resources to protect themselves from cyber attacks. Few can hire computer security personnel.

“Political campaigns only exist for such a short amount of time,” said Blake Darche, a cyber security researcher and former National Security Agency analyst. “It takes years to build an effective security program at most corporations. Most political campaigns are only a single phishing email away from being breached.”

While national political parties offer training and software tools to help candidates, they typically do not provide them with financial support to hire computer security experts, even after a campaign believes it has been hit. Corporations often pay security experts more than $100,000 to investigate an attack, security experts say.

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