Cyber Week in Review: WikiLeaks, Australian Weather Bureau & John Podesta

Media Division | October 28, 2016

Looking for a break from politics?  Well, you won’t find it in the cyberverse.  It seems that everything’s political these days.  Even your nana sends you Snopes-able forwards about the latest scandal.  Is it any wonder, with nations as far as Russia, China and Australia possibly involved in all of these political scandals?  It’ll make your parents nostalgic for the simple flashlights and live break-ins of Watergate.

From the relative safety of our glowing screens, at least we can take a light-hearted look at some of the biggest stories in cyber communities this week.  Seriously, who hijacks the weather service?  Poor a cuppa and take a look.

WikiLeaks

For months WikiLeaks has been promising a continuous flow of dirt on Hillary Clinton, and so far they haven’t disappointed.  To date they have archived (for public consumption):

• 19,252 emails from top executives at the Democratic National Committee
• 8,034 attachments from top DNC brass as well
• 30,322 emails and email attachments to and from Hillary Clinton’s private email server
• 26, 095 emails from to Clinton associate John Podesta (more on that later)
• 1 million accounts of…well, it seems like it!

Even by the time these numbers get released they will be inaccurate!  What WikiLeaks has against Hillary Clinton remains a matter of conjecture.  What has been pretty universally acknowledged is that someone (possibly Russia) wants to interfere in the U.S. presidential election or democratic process for some (unknown) purpose.

The big news this week was, of course, the contents of the Wall Street speeches Hillary Clinton gave back in 2013. Why?  Well, because if the contents of the leaks are correct, Ms. Clinton has really done an about-face on some key presidential issues, such as free market trade.

What’s possibly even more damning is the contents of some emails that suggest Hillary may have wanted to support a rift in the Republican party and the rise of a candidate like Donald Trump, who may have had little chance of defeating her in the broader election.  Yikes.

But then, speaking of about-faces, The Donald may have once supported Hillary as well.  You say that was 2008?  It’s so 2000-and-late.

Australian Weather Bureau

So back to the earlier question, in another hemisphere, of why anyone would want to hijack a weather bureau?  The Australian Bureau of Meteorology was, according to the Australian Cyber Security Center report, attacked by foreign spies.  In addition to useful weather and climate information to commercial airlines and shippers, the BoM owns one of Australia’s largest supercomputers.  Not such a bad conquest, especially when you factor in the work they do with the Australian defense department.

There’s much we don’t know, such as what (if any) data was compromised by the reported malware attack.  Australia blamed China.  China says “no way, Jose,” or however they say that in Mandarin.  Based the data we do have, it seems the malware was state-sponsored from somewhere and was “searching for and copying an unknown quantity of documents from the bureau’s network.”

If that doesn’t make for an icy chill down under, nothing will.

John Podesta

But let’s hop back over stateside.

As promised, here’s the 411 on John Podesta: Chairman of the 2016 Hillary Clinton presidential campaign, former Chief of Staff to President Bill Clinton, Counselor to Barack Obama and latest victim of the possibly-Russian-possibly-WikiLeaks attacks centering around Hillary Clinton.

Podesta’s Twitter got hacked.  Batches of his emails have been released on WikiLeaks.  Podesta’s been with the Clintons for a long time, and privy to all kinds of plans and opinions issued amongst staff.  Sites like Politico have a running file of highlights, when you get that hankering for the latest.

With live conversations being eavesdrop-able and emails being hackable, what’s a political insider to do?

Here’s hoping a few lessons have been learned in cybersecurity.

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