Pages from the FBI’s probe into Hillary Clinton’s private email server are giving more insight into the attempted cyberattacks on the server, as well as the concerns from Clinton’s staff – and the former secretary of state herself – that the homebrew arrangement may have been compromised.
FBI Director James Comey said in July that the government found no evidence that the server was hacked, but said that foreign governments were so sophisticated, and the server such a high-value target, that it was unlikely they would leave evidence of the break-in.
IT specialist Bryan Pagliano told investigators that while there were no breaches of the server, he was aware of many failed logins, which he described as “brute force attacks,” according to the report. He also told the FBI that the attempts increased as time went on. When asked, he said he could not recall if a high volume of failed logins came from a specific country.
Clinton told investigators she was unaware of specific details about the security, software and hardware used on her server, and that she occasionally received odd-looking emails. But she told agents that there were never so many suspicious emails to arouse concern.
The report cites an email from Clinton aide Huma Abedin in which she wrote that Clinton was worried about someone hacking into her email when she received an email from a “known [redacted] associate that contained a link to a pornographic website."
The report notes that Abedin’s email gives no other information as to why Clinton was concerned about hacking. However, after a redacted portion, the report says: “Open source information indicated, if opened, the targeted user’s device may have been infected, and information would have been sent to at least three computers overseas, including one in Russia.”
Additionally, the report says the FBI’s review of Internet Information Services (IIS) web logs indicated that there had been one scanning attempt from an external IP address that resulted in a successful compromise of an email account -- but it was not clear whose email account.
The report does appear to indicate at least one instance in which the server was compromised in some way. The report says that on February 5, 2013, three IP addresses matching “known Tor exit nodes” accessed a user e-mail account believed to belong to an unnamed Clinton staffer. That staffer told investigators she was not familiar with, nor had ever used Tor software.
“FBI investigation to date was unable to identify the actor(s) responsible for this login or how [redacted] login credentials were compromised,” the report said.
The Trump campaign immediately seized on the revelations in the report.
“Hillary Clinton is applying for a job that begins each day with a Top Secret intelligence briefing, and the notes from her FBI interview reinforce her tremendously bad judgment and dishonesty,” Senior Communications Advisor Jason Miller said in a statement.
“Clinton’s secret email server was an end run around government transparency laws that wound up jeopardizing our national security and sensitive diplomatic efforts," he said.