More precisely, I should have said “flashback” to 2008.
Lots of attention on the alleged Russian hacking of the DNC and Clinton campaign.
Less attention on the Intelligence Community’s assessment that the RNC was hacked, too.
More surprising, there have been no references by Intelligence Agencies or the MSM to China’s hacking of the 2008 Presidential campaigns.
So, let’s take a stroll down memory lane …
According to a report by Michael Isikoff, National investigative correspondent NBC News:
U.S. intelligence officials told NBC News that the U.S. secretly traced a massive cyberespionage operation against the 2008 presidential campaigns of John McCain and Barack Obama to hacking units backed by the People’s Republic of China.
Beijing’s aggressive, orchestrated campaign was intended to pierce America’s national security armor at any weak point – in this case the computers and laptops of top campaign aides and advisers who received high-level briefings.
The goal of the campaign intrusion: to export massive amounts of internal data from both campaigns — including internal position papers and private emails of key advisers in both camps.
“This was a case of political cyberespionage by the Chinese government against the two American political parties.”
Any similarity to the Russian hacking?
You bet, there is.
The intrusion into the campaigns’ computer networks and subsequent efforts to penetrate them were highly sophisticated.
It was delivered by a “phishing” email – outlining the “agenda” for an upcoming meeting — that circulated among top staffers and contained a zip file attachment with “malware,” a hidden malicious virus.
But it was no ordinary virus.
The malware was “as sophisticated as anything we had seen” and was part of “an infection chain” that replicated itself throughout the computer systems.
It also was designed to stay buried in the computers for months, if not years, he said.
Officials now acknowledge that the security breach was far more serious than has been publicly known, involving the potential compromise of a large number of internal files.
Here’s where things get interesting …
In one case, (the hacking) included the apparent theft of private correspondence from McCain to the president of Taiwan.
In one incident that caused concern among U.S. intelligence officials, the Chinese hackers appeared to have gotten access to private correspondence between McCain, then the GOP presidential candidate, and Ma Ying-jeou, the newly elected president of Taiwan.
On July 25, 2008, McCain had signed a personal letter — drafted on campaign computers — pledging his support for the U.S. –Taiwanese relationship and Ma’s efforts to modernize the country’s military.
But before the letter had even been delivered, a top McCain foreign policy adviser got a phone call from a senior Chinese diplomat in Washington complaining about the correspondence.
“He was putting me on notice that they knew this was going on,” said Randall Schriver, a former State Department official who was serving as a top McCain adviser on Asian policy.
So, the Chinese hacked presidential campaigns, didn’t take kindly to the positions being taken by one of the candidates and issued veiled threats.
I don’t recollect anybody making a particularly big deal of this “massive political cyberespionage operation” at the time