An investigation into how hackers obtained approximately 60,000 emails from Hillary Clinton’s campaign chief John Podesta has revealed that it all may have resulted from a typo.
WikiLeaks published thousands of emails in the months leading up to the Nov. 8 presidential election, revealing details about the Clinton campaign that were widely reported in the media, The New York Times reports.
Clinton campaign officials were on their guard as they received a large numbers of fishing emails, in which hackers posed as a legitimate company to obtain personal information including passwords.
Podesta received one of those messages, which informed him that his Google password had to be changed due to an unauthorized attempt to access his account. Another aid sent this email to a computer technician to screen for legitimacy.
“This is a legitimate email,” Clinton campaign aid Charles Delavan wrote to the aid who noticed the alert and forwarded it to the technician, the Times reported. “John needs to change his password immediately.”
But Delavan acknowledged in an interview that he knew the message was a scam, and intended to type “illegitimate” in the email. He said the mistake has bothered him ever since.
Some U.S. intelligence officials have blamed Russia for the cyberattacks.
“There shouldn’t be any doubt in anybody’s mind,” said Admiral Michael Rogers, director of the National Security Agency. “This was not something that was done casually, this was not something that was done by chance, this was not a target that was selected purely arbitrarily. This was a conscious effort by a nation-state to attempt to achieve a specific effect.”
Outgoing President Barack Obama also gave his opinion on the hacking.
“Russia trying to influence our elections dates back to the Soviet Union,” he said in a Comedy Central interview reported by RT. "What they did here, hacking some emails and releasing them, is not a particularly fancy brand of espionage or propaganda. We were frankly more concerned in the run-up to the election to the possibilities of vote tampering, which we did not see evidence of.”
Other Clinton supporters suffered the same fate as Podesta.
“It was just a sucker punch to the gut every day,” said Neera Tanden, president of the Center for American Progress think tank, of the subsequent media coverage of the leaked emails. "It was the worst professional experience of my life."
Russia denies any involvement in the hacking of Podesta’s emails or any other cyberattacks.
“This tale of ‘hacks’ resembles a banal brawl between American security officials over spheres of influence,” Maria Zakharova, spokeswoman for the Russian Foreign Ministry, wrote on Facebook Dec. 13.