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This article was published on September 15, 2016

Democrats think Wikileaks malware is targeting party officials

Democrats think Wikileaks malware is targeting party officials
Justin Pot
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Justin Pot

Justin Pot is a freelance technology journalist based in Portland Oregon with a passion for tech, nature, and starting conversations. Join h Justin Pot is a freelance technology journalist based in Portland Oregon with a passion for tech, nature, and starting conversations. Join him on Twitter if you'd like to chat.

Democratic officials think malware embedded in Wikileaks documents are targeting Democratic officials, a leaked email suggests. The email, obtained by Politico, says some officials have already been breached and impersonated by attackers on Twitter and other sites.

“A number of chairs and state parties have been victims of hacks and impersonation recently,” said a mass email sent by Raymond Buckley, president of the Association of State Democratic Chairs. Provocatively titled “Security Alert: Please Do Not Search Wikileaks!”, the message was sent to state Democratic leaders around the country.

The email continues:

Due to the potential of malware attached to the site, we are under advisement from [interim DNC] Chair [Donna] Brazile to stay away in the interest of maintaining some security.

Interim DNC Chair Donna Brazile has also advised Democrats to avoid the site:

We would urge anyone attempting to access these documents to proceed with extreme caution given the potential malware risks.

This isn’t entirely hot air. Security consultant Vesselin Bontchev posted a list of malware embedded in leaked emails from Turkey’s ruling AKP party, though that’s hardly evidence that Wikileaks itself is intentionally adding malware in order to target particular officials. Wikileaks would lose whatever credibility it has left if it intentionally planted malware in order to acquire documents, which makes this entire idea feel like a conspiracy theory to me.

At the same time, it makes sense that Democratic officials are paranoid right now. Yesterday another round of emails from the Democratic National Committee leaked, including information about the committee’s finances and donor base.

Someone is working to acquire and leak this information, and they’re probably using malware to do it. If only we could read the hacker’s email, we could get to the bottom of this.

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