Thursday, September 15, 2016

After Latest Hack, Fear of Being Next

Yeah, I expected to see a lot of trepidation when I first blogged this story. Nothing's safe these days.

At NYT, "Concern Over Colin Powell’s Hacked Emails Becomes a Fear of Being Next":
WASHINGTON — A panicked network anchor went home and deleted his entire personal Gmail account. A Democratic senator began rethinking the virtues of a flip phone. And a former national security official gave silent thanks that he is now living on the West Coast.

The digital queasiness has settled heavily on the nation’s capital and its secretive political combatants this week as yet another victim, former Secretary of State Colin L. Powell, fell prey to the embarrassment of seeing his personal musings distributed on the internet and highlighted in news reports.

“There but for the grace of God go all of us,” said Tommy Vietor, a former National Security Council spokesman for President Obama who now works in San Francisco. He said thinking about his own email exchanges in Washington made him cringe, even now.

“Sometimes we’re snarky, sometimes we are rude,” Mr. Vietor said, recalling a few such moments during his time at the White House. “The volume of hacking is a moment we all have to do a little soul searching.”

The Powell hack, which may have been conducted by a group with ties to the Russian government, echoed the awkwardness of previous leaks of emails from Democratic National Committee officials and the C.I.A. director, John O. Brennan. The messages exposed this week revealed that Mr. Powell considered Donald J. Trump a “national disgrace,” Hillary Clinton “greedy” and former Vice President Dick Cheney an “idiot.”

The latest hack could well spur a new rash of email deletions across the country as millions of people scan their sent mail for anything compromising, humiliating or career-destroying. It adds to the sense that everyone is vulnerable.

The soul searching is happening with a special urgency in Washington, where email accounts burst with strategies, delicate political proposals, gossipy whispers and banal details of girlfriends, husbands, bank accounts and shopping lists.

A television news anchor said that producers and staff members at her network had jokingly agreed at a morning news meeting to issue blanket apologies to one another if their emails were ever made public.

She said Mr. Powell’s emails had revealed him, a normally stoic public official, to be just as gossipy as everyone else, and added that the gossip, not classified information, was what people feared becoming public.

On Capitol Hill, Senator Richard J. Durbin of Illinois, the chamber’s No. 2 Democrat, said the news of Mr. Powell’s hacked emails had him thinking that Senator Chuck Schumer’s never-ending use of an old-fashioned flip phone “makes more sense than ever.”

“I think more and more people are realizing that there isn’t a thing you can say in an email that isn’t likely to be hackable or discoverable at some later point,” Mr. Durbin said, lamenting his own complacency.

Senator Lindsey Graham, Republican of South Carolina, shrugged off the news. “I haven’t worried about an email being hacked since I’ve never sent one,” Mr. Graham said. “I’m, like, ahead of my time.”

But for another network anchor in Washington, who declined to be named for fear of becoming an even more prominent hacking target, the Powell disclosures led to a long night Wednesday that involved saving a few personal emails and then deleting his entire account. Everyone, he said, has sent emails they would not want released, including innocent messages that could be misinterpreted...
More at that top link.