Intelligence Leak, Cyber Warfare or Partisan Politics?

Intelligence Leak, Cyber Warfare or Partisan Politics?

There are recent reports that the CIA is planning a proportional cyber retaliatory attack against Russia and Putin in response to the suspected Russian hacks of the DNC and Hillary Clinton campaign.

Wow! So, the clandestine US Intelligence Community is letting the media know that they are planning a covert cyberattack against a nation state and its leader. The Intelligence Community doesn’t have leaks prior to an Op.

Consider the decades of attacks carried out by the Soviet Union, Russia, China, Iran, and North Korea on our military, the White House, government agencies, and more importantly, the private sector. Our government’s response was to ignore, keep secret, ignore, downplay, ignore, chastise, and ignore.

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Risks to national and economic security such as sensitive military information, proprietary intellectual property, and research and development most likely worth billions of dollars have elicited no response from our government for over 30 years.

But now a suspected hack of a non-government, public citizen running for political office unleashes the tremendous power of the US Intelligence Community that is about to open Pandora’s Box. And it was leaked to the press prior to the Op and just days before Election Day?

If this is true, the world we know may change forever. We in the cyber community have feared the day that cyber would be used as an actual weapon, not just an intelligence-gathering tool. It has been part of the conversation but once that door is opened, we can only imagine what lies on the other side.

I am surprised that partisan politics is the cause of this escalation. Once we retaliate with a cyber event as described in the intelligence leak, there is no putting the genie back in the bottle.



Jim Christy is VP of Investigations and Digital Forensics at Cymmetria. Jim retired from the U.S. government in 2013, ending a career investigating computer crimes and running digital forensics labs that began in 1986 at the Air Force Office of Special Investigations.

Jim can be reached by email at

Connect with Jim on Twitter: @jimchristyusdfc

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