Democrats say hacking attempt was unauthorized ‘test’

The headquarters of the Democratic National Committee (DNC) in Washington. (AFP pic)

WASHINGTON: The Democratic Party said Thursday that a reported attempt to hack its voter database using a fake website ahead of the November mid-term election was an unauthorized test by a third party.

DNC Chief Security Officer Bob Lord said in a statement that the party and its security partners “now believe it was built by a third party as part of a simulated phishing test on VoteBuilder,” the party’s crucial computerized files on voters.

“The test, which mimicked several attributes of actual attacks on the Democratic party’s voter file, was not authorized by the DNC, VoteBuilder nor any of our vendors,” Lord said.

The phishing website, which if real could have helped attackers syphon off data, steal passwords and insert malware, revived the spectre of Russia’s hugely consequential cyber-theft of party communications in the 2016 presidential election.

US intelligence bodies say that in 2016 hackers from Russia’s GRU intelligence agency broke into Democratic Party networks, stealing documents and communications that were later leaked out to embarrass Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton.

Lord said the DNC in any case took quick action to protect its systems once the phishing website was reported.

“There are constant attempts to hack the DNC and our Democratic infrastructure,” he said.

“While we are extremely relieved that this wasn’t an attempted intrusion by a foreign adversary, this incident is further proof that we need to continue to be vigilant in light of potential attacks.”