November 6th, 2008
03:09 PM ET
13 years ago

Computers of Obama, McCain campaigns hacked


[cnn-photo-caption image= caption="Computers at the headquarters of the Obama and McCain campaigns were hacked CNN confirms."]
WASHINGTON (CNN) - Computers at the headquarters of the Barack Obama and John McCain campaigns were hacked in mid-summer by a foreign government or organization, a source with knowledge of the incidents confirms to CNN.

Another source, a law enforcement official familiar with the investigation, says federal investigators approached both campaigns with information the U.S. government had about the hacking, and the campaigns then hired private companies to mitigate the problem.

U.S. authorities, according to one of the sources, believe they know who the foreign entity responsible for the hacking is, but refused to identify it in any way, including what country.

The source, confirming the attacks that were first reported by Newsweek, said the sophisticated intrusions appeared aimed at gaining information about the evolution of policy positions in order to gain leverage in future dealings with whoever was elected.

The FBI is investigating, one of the sources confirmed to CNN. The FBI and Secret Service refused comment on the incidents.

The sources refused to speak on the record due to the ongoing investigation and also because it is a sensitive matter involving presidential politics.

As described by a Newsweek reporter with special access while working on a post-campaign special, workers in Obama headquarters first detected what they thought was a computer virus that was trying to obtain personal information of users.

The next day, agents from the FBI and Secret Service came to the office and said, "You have a problem way bigger than what you understand... you have been compromised, and a serious amount of files have been loaded off your system."

One of the sources told CNN the hacking into the McCain campaign computers occurred around the same time as the breach into those of Obama's campaign.

Representatives of the campaigns could not be reached for comment on the matter.

Filed under: Candidate Barack Obama • John McCain
soundoff (121 Responses)
  1. Sally from Cali

    Get real. It was the CIA, IRS, RNC, or DNC. What would China or Russia want with a bunch of donor information and campaign strategy.

    Worst case scenario, it was identity thieves. Both campaigns have a duty to notify contributors if their information has been compromised.

    November 6, 2008 04:07 pm at 4:07 pm |
  2. anoymous

    if they are going to protect our national security they'd better straighten up quick!

    November 6, 2008 04:07 pm at 4:07 pm |
  3. Mark, B'ham., Al.

    Probably China or the Pakistani's for Al-Quada.

    November 6, 2008 04:07 pm at 4:07 pm |
  4. Brian from Fort Mill, SC

    It was the girl that carved a "B" on her face!

    November 6, 2008 04:07 pm at 4:07 pm |
  5. OldDad

    Israel already has so many Washington insider tracks that they don't need to take chances of ruining contacts by hacking computers for trivial information.

    November 6, 2008 04:07 pm at 4:07 pm |
  6. alan

    china, iran, syria, n. korea

    November 6, 2008 04:08 pm at 4:08 pm |
  7. ST

    My money is on China, Russia, or Israel.

    November 6, 2008 04:08 pm at 4:08 pm |
  8. Matt


    November 6, 2008 04:10 pm at 4:10 pm |
  9. Brian from Fort Mill, SC

    I didn't know the McCain campaign even HAD computers. They were probably still running Windows 95!

    November 6, 2008 04:12 pm at 4:12 pm |
  10. Richard A. Spomer

    Obama got elected to the office of President, and we continue to loose ground on stocks people are not secured they keep selling off stock which it is not a good economy.

    November 6, 2008 04:12 pm at 4:12 pm |
  11. Youngstown, OH

    Obviously, it was Canada– trying to see if Obama was serious about pulling out of NAFTA or not.

    November 6, 2008 04:13 pm at 4:13 pm |
  12. Brian from Fort Mill, SC

    It was Joe the Plumber! He was looking for Sarah Palin's phone number!

    November 6, 2008 04:13 pm at 4:13 pm |
  13. Realistic and Futuristic

    It's probably Russia. Yesterday was a sad day for Republicans and an even sadder day for Eastern Europe; BTW, Russia announced its plans yesterday to thwart the missile defense shield for Poland. They announced that as soon as they saw Obama was elected.

    Obama's best foreign policy is to wish away war and adversity and to do this with glowing rhetoric. He's a well-intentioned, naive idealist. We're seriously screwed....

    November 6, 2008 04:14 pm at 4:14 pm |
  14. David

    The FBI should hire Joe the Plumber to find the culprits. After all, the internet is just a series of pipes. 😉

    November 6, 2008 04:15 pm at 4:15 pm |
  15. Tim

    Great, Obama is computer illeterate. It doesn't matter about McCain, he's not going to be president.

    November 6, 2008 04:17 pm at 4:17 pm |
  16. Tim

    Obama's election has resulted in a stock market crash of more than 10%, and probably going down.

    Too bad the smart people aren't in charge.

    November 6, 2008 04:18 pm at 4:18 pm |
  17. dittohead with forty names

    I think It was Israel,they have the best spy system.

    November 6, 2008 04:20 pm at 4:20 pm |
  18. young and informed independant

    to BRIAN- LOL.... i bet he called her to see if her kitchen sink needed a new hose.


    November 6, 2008 04:20 pm at 4:20 pm |
  19. Barbara in NC

    Tim – that's rather an ignorant remark.

    W is still in charge. Put it where it's supposed to be.

    Obama takes over Jan. 20. 2009

    November 6, 2008 04:21 pm at 4:21 pm |
  20. mrahaman

    1st Suspect – Israel
    2nd Suspect – Israel
    3 rd Suspect – Israel

    They have been caught spying recently.
    They have the intelligence to do this.
    They know that the US govt would only sound a private warning to them.
    We all know that if it was Iran, Pakistan, China, Russia or any Arab/Muslim country, they would have been named already.
    Israel also knows that even ifthey were caught by either party, neither side would say anything in public, because they would fear lsing teh Jewish vote, especially in Florida.

    November 6, 2008 04:21 pm at 4:21 pm |
  21. Mike

    See what can happen when you use Microsoft Windows? You are so often attacked by viruses that you don't realise when something really, really BIG has happend!

    I use Windows for games only. Everything important is done in Linux. OK, i am a pro, it's not as easy for average Joes, but at least the youthful, technology driven Obama-campaign should have had something secure in place to protect vital data.

    Big disapointment for me, hope everybody learned their lesson, can't have stuff like this happen from now on (he already gets CIA, NSA etc. briefings).

    November 6, 2008 04:22 pm at 4:22 pm |
  22. Ansom

    I have a great feeling it was Israel. I'll bet all my money on it. Then I'll bet my clothing on Russia.

    November 6, 2008 04:24 pm at 4:24 pm |
  23. YourInsanity

    If it was Russia they would have screamed about it all over. Same applies in case with Chna, N Kore or Iran. My guess it was Georgia or Ukraine or both. These two are up in the air now... Georgia received $1 billion fro us so far, their president said it was not enough and he needs $9 billions, so he was probably wonderng if any of candidates prepared check for him yet.

    November 6, 2008 04:26 pm at 4:26 pm |
  24. tiffany

    oh yeah, tim. obama's elected president and all a sudden **poof** , the giant mess this country is in is just supposed to magically disappear. what's our current president doing?? he's still in office till january, remember? if mccain had one, the same thing would have happened. the economy is in the tanker, tim. this is something that one day, nor one man, can fix. it's going to take a team. i think it's time we start working together to fix the problem, instead of pointing fingers and laying irrelevant blame. in response to your comment, i say to you: WHAT HAVE YOU DONE TODAY TO FIX THIS PROBLEM?

    November 6, 2008 04:27 pm at 4:27 pm |
  25. It's over? What do I watch now!?

    David November 6th, 2008 4:15 pm ET

    The FBI should hire Joe the Plumber to find the culprits. After all, the internet is just a series of pipes.



    November 6, 2008 04:28 pm at 4:28 pm |
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