Four senior officials of the National Republican Congressional Committee were targeted in the cyberattack, according to a person familiar with the matter who wasn’t authorized to discuss it.
"The NRCC can confirm that it was the victim of a cyber intrusion by an unknown entity,” Ian Prior, a spokesman for the group, said in an email Tuesday. “The cybersecurity of the committee’s data is paramount, and upon learning of the intrusion, the NRCC immediately launched an internal investigation and notified the FBI, which is now investigating the matter."
He wouldn’t elaborate on which officials or systems were targeted or whether there is any indication of who was behind it. "To protect the integrity of that investigation, the NRCC will offer no further comment on the incident," Prior said, after the news was first reported by Politico.
The Federal Bureau of Investigation declined to comment.
The Politico report, citing unnamed party officials, said that the intrusion was first detected in April.
Though the culprit and the motive in the NRCC cyberattack haven’t been identified, the hacking and subsequent release of Democratic National Committee emails during the 2016 presidential campaign were part of an election interference effort by Russian agents.
Large organizations are routinely targeted by criminals and nation-states for reasons other than political influence, said John Hultquist, the director of intelligence analysis at cybersecurity firm FireEye, which was not involved in investigating the breach, in a statement.
Criminals with "little regard for the fallout" have breached "politically sensitive systems" worldwide while nation-states regularly target political organizations to gather intelligence because "policy often begins at the party level," he said. "Many of the hackers who gather this intelligence quietly maintain their presence without carrying out a follow-on leak operation."
Virginia Senator Mark Warner, the ranking Democrat on the Intelligence Committee, said in a tweet that the NRCC hack demonstrates that such attacks are “not a Republican or Democratic problem.”
“Politicians who’ve insisted on viewing this threat through a narrow partisan lens over the past two years have put us at a massive disadvantage. It’s time to wake up,” Warner said.