House Republican Campaign Committee Tells FBI It Was Hacked

(Bloomberg) -- The House Republicans’ campaign arm said it was the victim of a hack during the midterm election campaign that’s now the subject of an FBI investigation.

Four senior officials of the National Republican Congressional Committee were targeted in the cyberattack, according to a person familiar with the matter who wasn’t authorized to discuss it.

“The NRCC can confirm that it was the victim of a cyber intrusion by an unknown entity,” Ian Prior, a spokesman for the group, said in an email Tuesday. “The cybersecurity of the committee’s data is paramount, and upon learning of the intrusion, the NRCC immediately launched an internal investigation and notified the FBI, which is now investigating the matter.”

He wouldn’t elaborate on which officials or systems were targeted or whether there is any indication of who was behind it. “To protect the integrity of that investigation, the NRCC will offer no further comment on the incident,” Prior said, after the news was first reported by Politico.

The Federal Bureau of Investigation declined to comment.

Security Investigation

Cybersecurity firm Crowdstrike, which helped protect the committee’s internal corporate network, said in a statement that the NRCC had asked the company in April “to perform an investigation related to unauthorized access to NRCC’s emails.” The firm added that the committee’s internal network wasn’t compromised but gave no further details.

Though the culprit and the motive in the NRCC cyberattack haven’t been identified, the hacking and subsequent release of Democratic National Committee emails during the 2016 presidential campaign were part of an election interference effort by Russian agents.

Large organizations are routinely targeted by criminals and nation-states for reasons other than political influence, John Hultquist, the director of intelligence analysis at cybersecurity firm FireEye, which was not involved in investigating the breach, said in a statement.

Criminals with “little regard for the fallout” have breached “politically sensitive systems” worldwide while nation-states regularly target political organizations to gather intelligence because “policy often begins at the party level,” he said. “Many of the hackers who gather this intelligence quietly maintain their presence without carrying out a follow-on leak operation.”

Mississippi Democratic Representative Bennie Thompson, the incoming chairman of the Homeland Security Committee, said in a statement that election security "has been a known critical issue" since 2016 but argued that Republicans “swept the issue aside” because the targets in that year’s election were Democrats.

“Nevertheless, Republicans should feel secure knowing that Democrats will continue to lead on cybersecurity and will look into all threats to our elections as soon as we take charge in January,” Thompson said in the statement.

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