Home / News / Military & Defense / The first person to examine the DNC hacks pronounced Russia wouldn’t do anything with the stolen emails — now he’s kicking himself

The first person to examine the DNC hacks pronounced Russia wouldn’t do anything with the stolen emails — now he’s kicking himself

Vladimir Putin
President Vladimir Putin.


  • Robert Johnston, the cybersecurity consultant who was the
    first to expose the extent of Russia’s hacks into the
    DNC during the 2016 election, didn’t consider the stolen data
    would be leaked to Wikileaks.
  • Johnston, a former Marine, spoke publicly about his
    role in the DNC hacking review for the first time in
    an talk with Buzzfeed News.
  • Johnston says he “takes responsibility” for thinking
    that Russia would only used the stolen information for
    espionage purposes.

In May 2016, Robert Johnston, a former Marine Corps captain,
briefed members of the Democratic National Committee about
reported hacks into their emails and information servers.

“They’re looking at me and they’re asking, ‘What are they going
to do with the information that was taken?'” Johnston told Buzzfeed

Johnston’s response: nothing.

More than a year after — as special
Robert Mueller’s examine into possible
coordination between Donald Trump’s campaign and Russia during
the 2016 election intensifies — Johnston has satisfied he
couldn’t have been some-more wrong.

“I take shortcoming for that piece,” he said.

As the former conduct of a supervision cyber insurance team,
Johnston had copiousness of knowledge with hacks before to the DNC

In 2015, he presided over a large malware attack linked
to the Russian supervision that compromised the computers of the
Joint Chiefs of Staff, the president’s top military
advisers. The attack influenced around
4,000 crew who worked for the Joint Chiefs and kicked the
Pentagon’s email complement offline for almost two weeks.

As with other hacks that he had witnessed, lots of data
was stolen, but it was never released.

DNC headquarters
National Committee domicile in


When the DNC reached out to IT confidence organization
Crowdstrike last year to
examine the DNC hack, the charge fell to
Johnston, then the firm’s lead
investigator. After assessing the damage, he met with
DNC officials to plead what to expect. Thinking back to
the prior hacks he had witnessed, he insincere zero would
come of the DNC hack.

“I start meditative back to all of these prior hacks by Russia
and other adversaries like China. we consider back to the Joint
Chiefs hack. What did they do with this data? Nothing. They
took the information for espionage purposes. They didn’t leak
it to WikiLeaks,” Johnston said.

He says those past hacking practice assured him that
Russia wouldn’t do anything with the information
collected from the DNC’s servers. He told them not

He was wrong. The stolen information was leaked to Wikileaks and
founder Julian Assange, who published the emails, throwing the
2016 DNC Convention in Philadelphia, PA and the Hillary Clinton
campaign into disarray.

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