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In October 2016, the United States accused Russia of hacking political organizations involved in the U.S.
elections and leaking pilfered information to influence the outcome. In December,
President Obama imposed sanctions for the hacking. This incident damaged
President Obama's cybersecurity legacy. The “hack and leak” campaign targeted
American self-government—a challenge to his administration's promotion of democracy
in cyberspace. It created problems for the president's emphasis on international law
and norms as “rules of the road” for cybersecurity. The episode exposed failures in
his attempts to make deterrence an important instrument of U.S. cybersecurity.
Theft of secrets is nothing new. Nor is it new to publicize stolen secrets with hopes
of influencing (or instigating) leadership changes in government. So the theft of
confidential information being stored by the Democratic National Committee (DNC) is
part of a long tradition, albeit perpetrated in a new venue: cyberspace.
Who was responsible for the cyberincursions upon the Democratic National Committee
(DNC) that took place during the U.S. presidential campaign? Russia's “senior most officials”? A “a tattooed 26-year-old” running a server rental company
in western Siberia? U.S. political party leaders and other insiders disinclined to
implement “best in class” cybersecurity measures? Or does
responsibility lie elsewhere?
The recent U.S. Democratic National Committee (DNC) hack raises several difficult
questions in the fields of cybersecurity and privacy. Obviously, this was first and
foremost a matter of security in that the hack likely involved a
foreign government attempting to intervene in a
presidential election process with the possible motive of influencing its outcome.
From another perspective, however, the incident was also a matter of
privacy, in that the fundamental motive of the DNC hack was to
reveal “information that the victim wants to keep private” and to influence its
future decision through the compromise of privacy.
The data breach of the Democratic National Committee (DNC) during the U.S.
presidential election of 2016 is multi-faceted and has wide ranging implications. The
discourse of “cybersecurity” is increasingly thought of through the lens of states
and other powerful actors like large corporations, as a conflict or war that is waged by specialized
combatants while civilians are relegated to the sidelines and are the victims of
digital malfeasance or the object of regulation and education from those in