Hillary Clinton’s email server was vulnerable for years, IT firm says

The FBI reportedly told the company this year not to encrypt Clinton's emails.

 

Dell Cameron

Tech

Published Oct 8, 2015   Updated May 27, 2021, 8:20 pm CDT

Hillary Clinton’s emails may have been vulnerable to hackers as recently as this summer, according to a cloud-technology company that worked on the former secretary of state’s home-brew server.

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Datto, a Connecticut-based subcontractor that specializes in digital disaster recovery, recognized potential security gaps in Clinton’s email server. The company recommended encrypting the server to protect it from intruders. 

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The arrangement between Platte River and Datto was “negotiated by the two companies, not the Clintons,” the aide said.

In a Washington Post report published Wednesday night, a Datto official said the primary company managing Clinton’s records, Platte River Systems, rebuffed the idea, citing an FBI order not to implement any changes to the server.

The Datto official suggested the security gaps may have been present as far back as May 2013, nearly two years before the controversy over Clinton’s server made headlines. The company believes data from Clinton’s time as secretary of state may have been stored on the server at that time, according to the Post.

Responding to the report, a Platte River spokesperson acknowledged receiving Datto’s request to upgrade Clinton’s security, but said “the FBI had told us not to change or adjust anything.”

Datto was reportedly unaware that it was handling Clinton’s data until this summer when the email controversy peaked. The company said it was concerned notoriety may have attracted malicious hackers to the server, which was still being used at Clinton’s personal office in August.

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A Clinton aide, who was not identified by name, reportedly told the Post that both Platte River and Datto had been instructed to comply fully with the Federal Bureau of Investigation. The arrangement between Platte River and Datto was “negotiated by the two companies, not the Clintons,” the aide said.

According to U.S. Justice Department, Clinton is not a target of the FBI’s investigation.

In a letter obtained by CNN, Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wis.), chairman of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, quotes emails sent to and from Platte River employees.

In August, an employee allegedly wrote: “Starting to think this whole thing really is covering up some shaddy (sic) shit. I just think if we have it in writing that they told us to cut the backups, and that we can go public with our statement saying we have backups since day one, then we were told to trim to 30days (sic), it would make us look a WHOLE LOT better.”

The email was sent shortly after the FBI began looking into the server’s security, according to CNN. The Platte River employee reportedly indicated that between October and February, Clinton’s team requested that the duration of the backup system be altered.

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The Clinton campaign accused Johnson on Wednesday of “ripping a page from the House Benghazi Committee’s playbook and mounting his own, taxpayer-funded sham of an investigation with the sole purpose of attacking Hillary Clinton politically.”

“[Q]uestions still remain as to whether Datto actually transferred the data from its off-site datacenter to the on-site server, what data was backed up, and whether Datto wiped the data after it was transferred,” Johnson’s letter concluded.

Earlier reports suggest that hackers attempted to infiltrate Clinton’s email server on multiple occasions in 2011. The attacks are not believed to have been successful.

H/T Washington PostPhoto via veni/Flickr (CC BY 2.0)

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*First Published: Oct 8, 2015, 4:28 pm CDT