Russia-linked hackers tried at least five times to pry into Hillary Clinton’s private email account while she was secretary of state, newly released emails show. It is unclear if she clicked on any attachments and exposed her account.
Clinton received the infected emails, disguised as speeding tickets from New York, over four hours on the morning of August 3, 2011.
The emails instructed recipients to print the attached tickets. Opening an attachment would have allowed hackers to take control of a victim’s computer.
Security researchers who analysed the malicious software in September 2011 said that infected computers would transmit information from victims to at least three server computers overseas, including one in Russia.
That doesn’t necessarily mean Russian intelligence or citizens were responsible.
Nick Merrill, a spokesman for Clinton’s Democratic presidential campaign, said: “We have no evidence to suggest she replied to this email or that she opened the attachment. All these emails show is she received spam.”
Practically every Internet user is inundated with spam or virus-riddled messages daily. But these messages show hackers had Clinton’s email address, which was not public, and sent her a fake traffic ticket from New York state, where she lives.
Most commercial antivirus software at the time would have detected the software and blocked it.
The phishing attempts highlight the risk of Clinton’s unsecure email being pried open by foreign intelligence agencies, even if others also received the virus concealed as a speeding ticket from Chatham, New York.
BREAKING: Emails show Russia-linked hackers tried at least 5 times to break into Clinton private server.— The Associated Press (@AP) September 30, 2015
The email misspelled the name of the city, came from a supposed New York City government account and contained a “Ticket.zip” file that would have been a red flag.
Clinton has faced increasing questions over whether her unusual email setup offered proper secrecy protection and records retention. The emails themselves, many redacted heavily before public release, have provided no shocking disclosures thus far.
During Clinton’s tenure, the State Department and other U.S. government agencies faced their own series of hacking attacks.
US counterterrorism officials have linked them to China and Russia. But the government has a large staff of information technology experts, whereas Clinton has yet to provide any information on who maintained her server and how well it was secured.
The new emails also show a Clinton confidant urging her boss and others in June 2011 not to “telegraph” how often senior officials at the State Department relied on their private email accounts to do government business because it could inspire hackers to steal information.
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