Hackers hit conservative think tank that slammed Obama for OPM hack

The group is trying to tamp down concerns over the data that hackers accessed.


Curt Hopkins


Published Sep 3, 2015   Updated May 28, 2021, 1:07 am CDT

The Heritage Foundation, an influential conservative think tank, has been hacked—and hacked in a deeply ironic fashion.

In July, the group published a commentary titled “How Obama’s Poor Judgment Led to the Chinese Hack of OPM.” The author proclaimed that Obama’s “appointment of Katherine Archuleta [as] OPM director…highlighted his willingness to elevate ideological purity over competency when selecting appointees whose job is to protect America.”

In August, Riley Waters, a research assistant at the Foundation’s Davis Institute for National Security and Foreign Policy, wrote, “The IRS breach, in addition to the OPM hack, continues to raise serious questions regarding the government’s competency in securing important information.”

But on September 2, the Heritage Foundation was itself hacked. The hackers apparently took “sensitive emails and donor information,” some of which “may have since started surfacing on the Internet.”

“We experienced a malicious, unauthorized data breach of six-year-old documents on an external server that appear to contain personal information of private donors, who we are notifying,” the group said in a statement. “We are unable to verify the authenticity of files circulated online.”

The foundation said that its internal servers were not compromised.

The Washington, D.C.-based think tank came to prominence during the Ronald Reagan administration. Reagan’s policies borrowed heavily from Heritage’s work, and the group has since continued to exert great influence on Republican policymaking in the executive and legislative branches.

The Heritage Foundation previously fended off a hack in 2012 that it said originated in China.

Groups like Heritage are frequent targets of cyberattacks and hackers because of their policy work and fundraising efforts. Earlier this year, the Urban Institute’s National Center for Charitable Statistics fell victim to an attack that compromised information on 600,000 to 700,000 charities.

A Heritage spokesperson declined to answer the Daily Dot’s questions about the hack, referring instead to the organization’s published statement, which did not address those issues.

H/T NPQPhoto via Ser Amantio di Nicolao/Wikimedia Commons (CC BY SA 3.0)

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*First Published: Sep 3, 2015, 3:34 pm CDT