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. Gary

    When they broke into McCains computer they found Pong and Space Invaders.

    November 6, 2008 05:08 pm at 5:08 pm |
  2. Danoinmo

    Dont you people have anythng better to do? I liked the linux suggestion though.

    November 6, 2008 05:10 pm at 5:10 pm |
  3. Judge Crater

    Glad to see the anti-Semites are out and about today blaming Israel.

    Israel does not need to hack campaign computers. And it would not take such adverse action against the US.

    November 6, 2008 05:12 pm at 5:12 pm |
  4. Greed is not good

    Yes must have been one of McCain's "ex" foreign national lobbyists...wonder who that could have been?

    November 6, 2008 05:14 pm at 5:14 pm |
  5. Deborah Black

    I don't know about all that. I do know that I am in withdrawal. Every day for the past several months, "what can I do to help Barack today?" was on my mind. Computers and the internet were a big part of that ability to be involved. I hope that he will have similar access while he is president. We were willing to about anything to help him win and we will be ready to do about anything he asks to help him govern and fix our nation's problems.

    November 6, 2008 05:14 pm at 5:14 pm |
  6. El Mugroso

    It can not be discarded that it was the Bush administration riding the abusive "Patriot" Act which extends the Bush Administration to do violate the right to privacy of citizens. Else, HOW did the FBI "know" about it? THAT should be investigated. But, by WHOM??

    November 6, 2008 05:17 pm at 5:17 pm |
  7. Joe in NJ

    I'm surprised at how many people are blaming Israel and a lot of these remarks are bordering on anti-semitism. Maybe the reason they're not saying what country did the hacking is because they don't know. It's not as easy to trace someone on the Internet if you know how to cover your tracks.

    November 6, 2008 05:27 pm at 5:27 pm |
  8. nov 6th

    --we the people have the Right to know who did this???

    -–why the FBI is hidding the name of the country???

    --thats puzzling to me.

    November 6, 2008 05:28 pm at 5:28 pm |
  9. michael

    Tim, if you do not spend at least a little time finding ou the reasons for market ups and downs, you have no business keeping your money there. Took me about 2 seconds to find this headline, sure there are hundreds of others:

    "Stocks have taken another beating, wiping out recent gains. The declines followed a bad report on retail sales and poor earnings reports. The Dow Jones industrial average closed down more than 400 points." NPR/All things considered.

    November 6, 2008 05:34 pm at 5:34 pm |
  10. Rave

    Who was it? Who was it?
    Is it Palin's husband.. the Great Alaska Independence Party Leader
    Or is it Joe the Scum_bag

    November 6, 2008 05:37 pm at 5:37 pm |
  11. Rike

    China, they also hacked the German government.

    November 6, 2008 05:42 pm at 5:42 pm |
  12. Ruel Strachan

    This may not be pertaining to the topic but Wherever he is i want Senator McCain to hear this. My heart goes out to you senator McCain for that concession speech. You showed that being a grateful loser isn't a hard thing and Sir your speech really touched me. It is my prayer that you continue to press on in your endeveurs and continue to be a great american. God bless you and america

    November 6, 2008 05:42 pm at 5:42 pm |
  13. Jackie in Dallas

    I think you guys are missing an obvious suspect in either India or Pakistan. Both have a lot of technical sophistication...after all, that's where most American high-tech jobs got outsourced to. And both, but particularly Pakistan, have good reasons to be searching for possible policy information.

    We shouldn't overlook that this could just as easily been an inside job from somewhere here in the states, just routed through enough international servers and IP addresses that the exact location cannot be easily pinned down.

    This type of hacking takes a lot of know-how and sophistication, but the odds are pretty good that it is a country with which we are "allied," which is the reason that the FBI is not specifying a country of origin. It doesn't have to be a national entity doing it, either. It could just as likely be a corporate entity.

    November 6, 2008 05:43 pm at 5:43 pm |
  14. GARY


    November 6, 2008 05:47 pm at 5:47 pm |
  15. Nick the Photographer

    Well at least we know what Biden was talking about so cryptically! If it were Iraq, Russia, or Iran, we would know about it, because it would bolster or disdain for them. My guess is Israel. Wanting to make sure they still had a "friend" in the next US Pres.

    November 6, 2008 06:02 pm at 6:02 pm |
  16. Jackie in Dallas

    By the way, Samuel, it is motive, not motif. A motif is an element of a design, such as a rose or ivy leaf, repeated over and over. A motive is a reason for doing something.

    November 6, 2008 06:03 pm at 6:03 pm |
  17. just me

    Just ask Mossad!
    Remember when?
    Mossad HACK German White House Server; Remotely Authorize, Steal & Reprogram/Launch Nuke Cruise Missile to Syria?

    November 6, 2008 06:04 pm at 6:04 pm |
  18. linda from South Dakota

    i find this hard to believe that someone could "hack" into a highly secure goverment internet,,,, seems they better tighten up their security a bit more,,,, and i hear they know who they are and will "get em",,, sad people have to do things like this, but with tecnolgy like it is,, it happens,,,, go obama go!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    November 6, 2008 06:05 pm at 6:05 pm |
  19. revoltop

    It was Israel anyone else would have been named.

    Israel sunk the USS LIBERTY on purpose and we did nothing.

    Israel is a country of 7-8 million people and yet gets more foreign aid then any other country, this is not including the military aid the free grants and all the other fun stuff Israel extracts from USA.

    Who is Jonathan Jay Pollard ?

    So why does every President have to publicly state his policy on Israel? And not the normal politician way with vagaries and loopholes?

    The sad sad fact is that I can go on and on about the rare rare treatment of Israel at the expense of American Interest and will only find myself in the end alone in my concern's as of yet no administration will even address these oddities.

    November 6, 2008 06:07 pm at 6:07 pm |
  20. Just me

    Just ask Mossad!

    November 6, 2008 06:10 pm at 6:10 pm |
  21. jonathan

    My money is on Israel. Let's cut off their aid. They do not need it.

    November 6, 2008 06:12 pm at 6:12 pm |
  22. I Know, I Know . . .

    It was the Church Lady ( Now isn't that special.)

    No, no, it was Joe the Plumber. (Flush)

    Noooo, it was the Dalai Lama. (Ommm)

    No – it was McCain himself. He only claimed to be computer illiterate to throw us off. (That's all folks)


    We will probably never know for security reasons. Next story.

    November 6, 2008 06:14 pm at 6:14 pm |
  23. David Evan

    It was the Dutch. Get Goldmember.

    November 6, 2008 06:29 pm at 6:29 pm |
  24. I Know . . .

    It was the Church Lady ( Now isn't that special.)

    No, no, it was Joe the Plumber. (Flush)

    Noooo, it was the Dalai Lama. (Ommm)

    No – it was McCain himself. He only claimed to be computer illiterate to throw us off. (That's all folks)


    We will probably never know for security reasons. Next story.

    November 6, 2008 06:31 pm at 6:31 pm |
  25. HouseDiva

    sounds like something china, Russia, or Israel would do...maybe even CIA black operatives could have done it.

    November 6, 2008 06:33 pm at 6:33 pm |
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