Yesterday, CNN was breathless in their coverage of a “sophisticated attempt to hack” the DNC voter database.

CNN reported-
The DNC was alerted in the early hours of Tuesday morning by a cloud service provider and a security research firm that a fake login page had been created in an attempt to gather usernames and passwords that would allow access to the party’s database, the source said.
The DNC and the two companies involved in detecting the operation say they believe they thwarted a potential attack.

CNN was full of wild theories and speculation about who was behind the “sophisticated hack” of the DNC.

The DNC and the two companies involved in detecting the operation say they believe they thwarted a potential attack.
The fraudulent page was designed to look like the access page Democratic Party officials and campaigns across the country use to log into a service called Votebuilder, which hosts the database, the source said, adding the DNC believed it was designed to trick people into handing over their login details.
Watch CNN’s embarrassing coverage of the “sophisticated hack”:

After the truth about who actually “hacked”, the DNC was revealed, the DNC was forced to walk back their embarrassing story about the “sophisticated” outside hack job.

Axios reports – The DNC walked back an assertion that it had detected a “sophisticated” hacking attempt early Thursday, announcing instead that it was simply a subcontractor’s unauthorized security test.

Why it matters: While this is a slight black eye for the DNC, who look a little foolish for riling up the press over what turned out to be an internal matter, it’s a massive victory for Lookout, the third-party security firm that caught the “attempt” with its unique approach to discovering phishing sites.

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What actually happened:

  • The DNC uses the contractor NGP VAN to manage its digital voter operations — specifically, a product known as VoteBuilder.
  • Lookout discovered what appeared to be a newly-registered phishing site meant to look like the NGP VAN site and alerted several stakeholders.
  • After an FBI investigation, it turned out that, according to the DNC’s chief security officer Bob Lord, a third party “not authorized by the DNC or its vendors” set up the site to test Democrats’ resiliency to phishing attacks.
  • Michael Kan, a reporter for PCMag, determined that the unauthorized third party was the Michigan Democratic Party — technically a separate entity from the national group.
  • It’s not uncommon for organizations to try to phish their own members as both an educational experience and security audit.

The tech behind the hullabaloo:

  • “Most people in security want to know why a mobile security company discovered the phishing site,” Aaron Cockerill, chief strategy officer at Lookout, told Axios. “There are dedicated products to protect organizations from phishing. Lookout is not one of them.”
  • Cockerill said Lookout, which protects mobile phones, got into the phishing protection business because phishing remains a key mobile threat. Lookout caught the site where others didn’t because it uses a different apparatus than other phishing protection services.

Will CNN give this revelation the same treatment they gave the original story that was incorrect?

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