The basement of the Democratic National Committee's Washington, DC, headquarters holds one of the most fitting images to come out of the hacks that dogged Democrats in the 2016 presidential election. On the left: a 1960s era file cabinet that was jimmied open during the 1972 Watergate break-in. On the right: a DNC server that was hacked by what the US intelligence community says were Russian operatives.
The photo is from an 8,300-word New York Times article about how two separate Russian government groups hacked the DNC. The hacks first came to light in June, and the rough outline is well known. For months, the intruders had free reign over the DNC's computers. Over time, the Russians extended their reach into the Gmail accounts of Clinton campaign chairman John Podesta, former secretary of State Colin Powell, and others. The series of DNC blunders, bordering on ineptitude, that allowed the attacks to succeed has been well documented. Those blunders are now coming into sharper focus.
Like the feeble filing cabinet, the shortcomings exposed in the New York Times' blow-by-blow account show just how ineffective and doomed the DNCs's defenses were against a much-better organized adversary. Equally important, the report reveals how a "series of missed signals, slow responses, and a continuing underestimation of the seriousness of the cyberattack"—apportioned in almost equal parts by members of the FBI, the DNC, and the Clinton campaign—allowed the hacking drama to play out.