Russian Hackers Poised to Unleash “October Surprise”

Russian President Vladimir and Hillary Clinton

Russian President Vladimir Putin attends a meeting with leaders of political parties, presented at the State Duma, the lower house of parliament, in Moscow, Russia, July 14, 2016. REUTERS/Kirill Kudryavtsev/Pool – RTSHXVB

In the wake of the leaked emails of multiple DNC officials, speculation has begun to stir about the possibility of more emails being released in the near future.  

U.S. authorities are now confident that Russian intelligence agencies are responsible for the hack of the first batch of emails totaling nearly 20,000.  On the surface, the only possible motive for the Russians seems to be that they would prefer to not see Hillary Clinton rise to the most powerful position in the world.  However, Mark Galeotti, a longtime Putin observer and senior research fellow at the Institute of International Relations in Prague, says the Russians don’t necessarily want or even expect Donald Trump to become president.  Instead, they want to see a weak Clinton who is too buried in domestic issues to worry about threats overseas.  

With this motive in mind, cybersecurity experts theorize that this is only the beginning.  They believe we may see an even more damaging release of emails in October, just weeks before the election.

These first 20,000 emails could be merely a small taste of what is to come if this analysis is accurate.  The big question for experts is how damaging a new release of hacked emails would be to the former secretary of state.  

DNC and Clinton campaign officials are hoping for the best, but preparing for the worst.  Currently, they are working on a theoretical damage assessment in order to be ready to respond to more emails being released.  Some within the Democratic Party have argued that Trump may be partnering with the Russians in this endeavor to damage Hillary.  As of now, these claims are purely speculative.  There is no evidence to suggest Trump was or is involved in any way.  

Much more concerning than the public relations nightmare Hillary may face, is what these events have to say about American cybersecurity and Russia’s proven ability to weaken our defenses and penetrate networks.  

Evelyn Farkas, who until last September was the Pentagon’s top official overseeing military relations with Russia, had something to say on the matter.  “They could do a lot of things with the information they’ve gathered, now and after the convention.”  She also added, “What I really worry about is the security of our electronic electoral system.”

Not only do the Russians evidently have the ability to hack servers and release emails, they could also potentially tamper with voting results this November.  In addition, they could put these abilities to use in areas other than politics such as interfering with our national defense systems or drone fleets.  Much more will likely be known about the Russian’s true abilities in the not so distant future.  

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