In the past few years, the devastating effects of hackers breaking into an organization's network, stealing confidential data, and publishing everything have been made clear. It happened to the Democratic National Committee, to Sony, to the National Security Agency, to the cyber-arms weapons manufacturer Hacking Team, to the online adultery site Ashley Madison, and to the Panamanian tax-evasion law firm Mossack Fonseca.
This style of attack is known as organizational doxing. The hackers, in some cases individuals and in others nation-states, are out to make political points by revealing proprietary, secret, and sometimes incriminating information. And the documents they leak do that, airing the organizations’ embarrassments for everyone to see.
In all of these instances, the documents were real: the email conversations, still-secret product details, strategy documents, salary information, and everything else. But what if hackers were to alter documents before releasing them? This is the next step in organizational doxing—and the effects can be much worse.



In the latest disturbing account of Russian hacking, the FBI is reportedly investigating a series of cyber-attacks targeted at journalists from the New York Times and other U.S. media outlets. UPDATE: A story in the Times says the original report by CNN is exaggerated:

News of the hacking comes via CNN. Neither the FBI or the New York Times has confirmed it. But the news network cites unnamed government officials who paint a troubling picture:

The intrusions, detected in recent months, are under investigation by the FBI and other US security agencies. […] The Times has brought in private sector security investigators who are working with US national security officials to assess the damage and determine how the hackers got in, according to the US officials.

The report also says U.S. officials regard the attack on the New York Times journalists as part of a broader cyber-offensive by Russia, which includes hacks on the Democratic National Committee. Some speculate that Russia’s efforts to steal such confirmation could be part of a broader attempt to meddle with U.S. domestic politics ahead of the Presidential elections:

Attacks of this nature could allow hackers to obtain confidential communications between reporters and their sources in the government. It could also potentially allow Russia to release information, which would embarrass key political leaders as well as obtain insight into U.S. diplomatic or military strategies.

While the Kremlin has not endorsed either Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump, the bulk of the cyber-attacks appear so far to have been directed at Democrats. (The New York Times is regarded by many as sympathetic to the Democratic party.) At the same time, news outlets have pointed to common political styles between Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin to suggest an affinity between the two men.

Meanwhile, Russia is also the mostly likely suspect behind last week’s “Shadow Brokers” incident, in which hackers published a top-secret set of cyber-weapons developed by the NSA. This is not the first time the New York Times has been hacked. In 2013, it incurred breaches attributed to China and a group known as the Syrian Liberation Army.



The recent Russian hack into the Democratic National Committee’s computers and subsequent FBI warning that two states’ elections databases had been victims of cyberattacks are raising fears that a foreign power might penetrate U.S. systems and try to alter the outcome of November’s vote.

Though possible, such an unprecedented foreign election-day hacking would be hard to pull off, experts say.  Here are some answers to common questions:

How realistic is the threat that hackers could break into U.S. election systems and alter vote tallies? 

Not very, thanks mostly to the fact that even presidential elections are highly decentralized and often still rely on old-fashioned systems rather than cutting-edge technology.First, there are more than 8,000 separate local jurisdictions where voters cast ballots for president, and each one is largely free to use whatever methods, technology and vendors they deem appropriate, based on varying local or state rules and guidelines. There are few federal mandates on how to conduct elections, and the mechanics of voting have been left to the states. For would-be hackers, that means there’s no easy, one-stop target.

Secondly, about 75% of all votes this cycle will be cast on paper, said Pamela Smith,president of Verified Voting, which tracks election systems nationwide  And many results are still conveyed by telephone, fax or hand delivery.

Even in cases where results are tallied or transferred electronically, if someone were to try to surreptitiously alter official results, there are built-in redundancies — such as following up an email with a phone call, fax or hand delivery. And with paper, a hand recount is always possible whenever in doubt.

Very few voting machines are directly connected to the Internet, where they might be targeted by hackers based in foreign countries, said Denise Merrill, secretary of state of Connecticut and president of the National Assn. of Secretaries of State



America's intelligence chief on Wednesday said Russia hacks US computer networks "all the time," while also seeking to reassure the public the transition to a new president would "be OK." 

US agencies, companies and individuals are frequently targeted by overseas hackers, and Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton's campaign has accused Moscow of hacking into Democratic National Committee (DNC) emails. 

"The Russians hack our systems all the time, not just government but also corporate" and personal systems, Director of National Intelligence James Clapper said at a Washington security summit, though he did not directly address whether Moscow was behind the DNC hack. 

He also pointed the finger at China and "non-state" actors for constantly trying to swipe data. 

The recent breach of DNC data, along with other electronic intrusions, has raised concerns about cyber incidents that could affect the outcome of the US presidential race, or other contests. 

Clinton is locked in a tightening race with Republican rival, Donald Trump.