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. Matt

    Russia is seriously mistaken if it thinks it can thwart the missile defense system. Seroiusly, what are they going to do? Invade Poland? I seem to remember that not turning out too well last time some jerkoff tried it.

    November 6, 2008 04:33 pm at 4:33 pm |
  2. Samuel

    Israel has the technology, the money to do that. The motif , you all know , when it comes to the interests of the the jewish people, the outcome of the US election is always secondary

    November 6, 2008 04:37 pm at 4:37 pm |
  3. Matt

    Maybe it was Israel. That's making more and more sense the more I think about it. I mean, think about it: Israel is a country full of racists who think it is ok to occupy the West Bank and displace Palestinians when the West Bank was not part of Israel's originally intended territory. I'm sure they bought the use of Obama's middle name hook line and sinker just liek the racists in our own country.

    November 6, 2008 04:37 pm at 4:37 pm |
  4. young and informed independant

    i agree that it was Israel, they are not too happy that Obama is not drinking their KOOL-AID and wants to have diplomacy.
    wake up america Israel uses us daily and can not wait for us and Iran to go after each other so their own religion and country can come out on top.
    Israel is a hateful hateful country.
    after what Hitler did to the Jews you would think a country who went through a holocaust they would have more respect for other religions.
    Israelis are nothing but hypocritical hateful pushy bullies and we as a nation need to remember George Washington's farewell speech WARNING the nation to not have long relations with foreign allies.

    **still awaiting censorship**

    November 6, 2008 04:37 pm at 4:37 pm |
  5. Mickie

    I didn't know McCain had computers since he used cue cards instead of a teleprompter. In the age of computers, nothing is safe from prying eyes.

    November 6, 2008 04:37 pm at 4:37 pm |
  6. Farrell, Houston, Tx

    Sounds to me like someone in the FBI is looking at a job with Obama if this is true.

    November 6, 2008 04:39 pm at 4:39 pm |
  7. Never again!

    This is just one thing that Bush had up his sleeve to suprise the next President with! But since Obama carries a smooth demeanor, WHEN HE GETS MAD, HE WILL SHAKE THE COUNTRY!!! i feel safe with that! anyone who dares to test us, will pay!!!

    November 6, 2008 04:40 pm at 4:40 pm |
  8. Chris

    Tim – Being that you can't even spell illiterate I think you have no room to talk. Also to Mike, it's my understanding that the Obama campaign's servers are indeed running Linux, not Windows.

    November 6, 2008 04:40 pm at 4:40 pm |
  9. bleaders1

    The hackers are from China. The Chinese see Obama as a nationalist and are scared their days as US funded superpower are over.

    November 6, 2008 04:42 pm at 4:42 pm |
  10. ednadavid

    What about the Al Qaeda, or other middle eastern entities like Saudi Arablia, et al??

    November 6, 2008 04:43 pm at 4:43 pm |
  11. # 1 Obama Supporter!!!!

    I hope they didnt hake into Palin's email, or they would of been rooting for McCain, they would just love to have someone as DuMB as her be in the white house!

    November 6, 2008 04:43 pm at 4:43 pm |
  12. Sgt C USMC

    Why oh why are people insistent on putting confidential/private information on computers attached to public networks ?

    Yeah, I know..NSA & DOD guidelines are bothersome, but the consequences of ignoring them could be much MUCH worse.

    November 6, 2008 04:44 pm at 4:44 pm |
  13. V. Clausewitz

    It was Bill Ayers....recruiting allies and selecting targets.

    November 6, 2008 04:46 pm at 4:46 pm |
  14. Janet

    I am glad we have Obama because he don't play when it comes to getting on his nerves or bad side. He will protect us from the hackers. And I do believe that the foreign country will be nice to us from now on and stop the madness.

    November 6, 2008 04:48 pm at 4:48 pm |
  15. shom, sugar land, tx

    to tim,
    OBAMA is not a computer illeterate. and your right! it really doesn't matter for mccain because he probably never owned a computer! does mccain even know what a computer is?
    ha ha ha!

    November 6, 2008 04:49 pm at 4:49 pm |
  16. j


    Israel is capable of this and has done similar things in the past. Plus, why would the U.S. not release who – when it's the U.S.'s "#1" ally, that's why.

    November 6, 2008 04:50 pm at 4:50 pm |
  17. Matt

    Israel did it. They're terrified Obama is going to rein in their occupationist nonsense and force them to live peacefully beside their neighbors...not to mention give voting rights to all the Palestinians they treat like non-humans...maybe even help give the Palestinian people their own homeland to govern like they should have. Grow up Israel. Stick to occupying Florida and leave the West Bank alone.

    November 6, 2008 04:50 pm at 4:50 pm |
  18. EMT

    They couldn't have learned much from Obama's computers- he's already told the whole world who he's going to bomb and who he's going to wave the white flag at.

    November 6, 2008 04:52 pm at 4:52 pm |
  19. Average Joe

    #1 Obama Supporter....what does Hake mean? You are making fun of how dumb Palin is and you can't even spell.... I hope you are not representing all of the Obama followers.

    Why don't you go pray to god/allah or whomever Obama prays to that he finds a solution to the Economic Crisis.

    November 6, 2008 04:53 pm at 4:53 pm |
  20. Justin

    I say RBG, the Russian Business Group. They hacked the Georgian computers to help create a news blackout...

    November 6, 2008 04:55 pm at 4:55 pm |
  21. Bridgette-PA


    November 6, 2008 04:56 pm at 4:56 pm |
  22. Tired of the Nonsense

    Tim –

    learn how to spell.

    and don't hate – congratulate!


    November 6, 2008 04:58 pm at 4:58 pm |
  23. Steve

    Hey Neveragain.

    Isn't that 180 degrees from what the majority of Obama's constituents want. I thought one of the big selling points of Obama is his knack for dialouge as opposed to "making people pay".

    November 6, 2008 05:00 pm at 5:00 pm |
  24. Roll in MN

    I love all the "It was ___ who did it!" comments. We are being given no information, outside of the fact that it was done. That being said, how many dozens of nations, hundreds of organizations, and hundreds of thousands of people do you think would like to get their hands on this kind of info?

    November 6, 2008 05:01 pm at 5:01 pm |
  25. mitch

    it was probably one of mccain's own foreign lobbyists that did it.

    November 6, 2008 05:03 pm at 5:03 pm |
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