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Democrats Bug Software Politics

Bernie Sanders Campaign Blocked From DNC Voter Info After Improper Access (washingtonpost.com) 313

PolygamousRanchKid writes with news that staffers for the Bernie Sanders campaign improperly viewed the voter data gathered by Hillary Clinton's campaign by exploiting a software error. "The discovery sparked alarm at the DNC, which promptly shut off the Sanders campaign's access to the strategically crucial list of likely Democratic voters. The DNC maintains the master list and rents it to national and state campaigns, which then add their own, proprietary information gathered by field workers and volunteers. Firewalls are supposed to prevent campaigns from viewing data gathered by their rivals." On Wednesday, while the software was being patched, it briefly opened access to all of the restricted voter data. The Sanders campaign fired the staffer responsible for viewing the data, Josh Uretsky. The campaign says their access was simply part of an investigation to determine their own exposure, and blames the vendor (and those who hired it) for improperly securing the data.
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Bernie Sanders Campaign Blocked From DNC Voter Info After Improper Access

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  • by mschaffer ( 97223 ) on Friday December 18, 2015 @12:16PM (#51143801)

    Should have scrubbed the data...you know...with a rag or something.

  • Background (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Chris Johnson ( 580 ) on Friday December 18, 2015 @12:16PM (#51143803) Homepage Journal

    From what the news stories are saying, this firewall-dropping was happening repeatedly. So:

    NGP-VAN, the company that stores this data, which is run by an old Clinton hand who worked for them in 1992, the company paid $34,000 by Ready For Hillary, was repeatedly dropping their firewall between the two major Dem campaigns, Clinton and Sanders.

    A guy who’s now fired from the Sanders team observed this. They complained once and were given assurances by the company that it was a mistake and wouldn’t happen again. Then it happened again. The guy decided to gauge how deeply the Clinton campaign was able to read into the Sanders campaign, by experimenting to see how much of the Clinton data he could get. That’s a bad call but by information security standards it’s not unthinkable: it’d be called a white hat intrusion, seeing how much of the firewall was down by probing the other side and assuming your own data was revealed exactly the same way. It does matter, but you still have to fire the guy.

    One thing we can be sure of is, anything open to ‘stealing’ on the Clinton side was just as open on the Sanders side, literally. It’s the same system and the same firewall, and if the firewall keeps mysteriously going down for no good reason you have to wonder what’s up and more relevantly what’s being made available to those on the other side of the firewall, which might explain why the firewall’s going down like that.

    The Sanders people did NOT throw a fit the first time this happened. But this time, the Sanders guy got caught crossing the nonexistent firewall. We have no information at all on whether anybody from the Clinton side was doing the same thing. During that time there WAS NO firewall and the guy wasn’t hacking, he was browsing, as anybody on either side could have done during those windows.

    I think that’s accurate so far. The behavior of the firewall is important, whether or not it’s suspicious as a planned exploit of the Sanders data run by Clinton people who are at the DNC and at NGP-VAN.

    In response to the Sanders guy browsing over and seeing data (how do they know? Because HE TOLD THEM. The Sanders team were the ones reporting this, that’s part of the story), the DNC suspended access by the Sanders campaign to THEIR OWN DATA at a crucial time. In order to get access back, at least as of this morning, the requirement is for the Sanders campaign to prove it has destroyed all data that it didn’t necessarily even download (remember, Sanders guy claims he was exploring the Clinton system because it would mirror the vulnerability of the Sanders system, and he’s not IN the Clinton system to go and browse the Sanders side to see how much is revealed, but he was IN the Sanders side and could look at the Clinton side and reasonably conclude that his own side was equally compromised)

    And social media is blowing the hell up, not unreasonably, because it’s a goddamn hatchet job combined with a kneecapping to yank access by the Bernie campaign to its OWN DATA because a guy from the Bernie campaign passively browsed through a firewall he didn’t himself disable, a firewall run by a company controlled by Clinton partisans which had been going down already for reasons unknown.

    • Re:Background (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward on Friday December 18, 2015 @12:38PM (#51143987)

      the DNC suspended access by the Sanders campaign to THEIR OWN DATA at a crucial time

      The DNC suspended Sander's access to DNC's own data, because the DNC as an organisation has decided upon Clinton come what may and Sander's is at best a token horse and at worst a thorn in their side to achieving this.

      There is absolutely no question that this would never have happened the other way around. Hilary Clinton's campaign being denied access to their own data because some staffer added strings to a url? Unthinkable. Clinton is the DNC's annoited. Sander's is an unexpected irritant and to be treated as such.

      This is a Rovian "technical glitch" story, spun into a convienient excuse to "ratfuck" the party's process for selecting a canditate in aid of helping people reach the "correct" result. Nothing more. Anyone, in 2015, still falling for the excuses being given here seriously needs to consider their critical thinking facilities.

      People wonder why Trump is leading the polls. Why people would be attracted to him. Has it ever occured tthat they are also being repulsed by this now standard "post-Watergate" behaviour that is so ubiquitious amoung the "respectable" candidates? I always wondered how far America's elites could test the trust and patience of the people before something finally gave. Trump's candidacy suggest we are nearing that breaking point. The DNC and Clinton's cynical selection gives no comfort we are moving away from it.

      • by Locke2005 ( 849178 ) on Friday December 18, 2015 @12:49PM (#51144061)
        But... political parties don't play favorites! Ron Paul was treated just like all the other presidential candidates, right?
        • Re:Background (Score:5, Insightful)

          by s.petry ( 762400 ) on Friday December 18, 2015 @02:20PM (#51144783)

          Fair point. My kid was in elementary school and noticed the media blatantly influencing the election. "Dad, why do they mention crazy every time they say Ron Paul's name?" and "Why did they cut the speech to make it look like he said something he didn't?"

          That said, Trump is not a career politician and can run his own campaign financially. Carson is another who is pretty popular for a guy who has never been a politician. I don't think that says that the Republican party has changed as much as the American populace is fed up with the corruption. 6 Months ago both parties said "Jeb vs. Hillary" and today it's not quite so clear. I know a whole lot of Dems who are not voting party this time because of how Hillary has been handled by everyone. Media has not crucified her for the scandals (of which there are plenty), or bothered to mention her double speak (where we have some hefty and career ending positions like pro-Feminism but pro Saudi Arabia). The debates have been intentionally hidden from view to protect Hillary as well.

          The fact that Bernie Sanders can still hold a lead in many places even after his own party joined in with the media lambasting him as a "Socialist" says as much about the Democratic party as Trump does for the Republican party. People are fed up.

      • Re:Background (Score:4, Interesting)

        by arth1 ( 260657 ) on Friday December 18, 2015 @01:29PM (#51144349) Homepage Journal

        I'm surprised that Sanders' team would access such a database at all. It flies in the face of being a socialist, where personal data is not considered a commodity to sell and buy.

        In many more progressive countries, having a database of individuals for this purpose would be illegal. Individual rights trumps any corporate or party interests to data mine personal information, and concessions to run such a database would almost certainly not be granted.

        • In many more progressive countries, having a database of individuals for this purpose would be illegal.

          Can you give an example?

          • by arth1 ( 260657 )

            Can you give an example?

            Like the EU Data Protection Directive [europa.eu], you mean?
            In particular article 8, which specifically prohibits processing data that reveals political opinions, unless some very narrow criteria (including explicit consent unless prohibited by national law, or use by law enforcement) are met. A "voting likelihood" database for the purpose of contacting potential voters would clearly be illegal.

        • I'm surprised that Sanders' team would access such a database at all.

          According to Bernie Sanders — in their own words [politico.com] — these data are "the heart and soul of our campaign".

          An eye-opening admission, I must say...

      • by dywolf ( 2673597 )

        more accurately, Debbie Wassermann Shultz has decided, as she continues to do everything she can to ensure a Hillary nomination, and ignore everything else, such as state and local elections. which is ultimately is what is has been helping the GOP take over nearly every state legislature in the country: unlike the RNC which assists party wide and at all levels, the DNC is continually laser focused on the national level, specifically on the Presidential race, and treats everything else as secondary or even i

      • Given that this kept happening and that the system is run by a Clinton supporter, I also wonder if the "firewall glitches" were for the Clinton campaign to gain access to the Sanders campaign's records. But when Bernie's staff member did the same thing (in an attempt to see how vulnerable they were), they got smacked down. I'm not one for conspiracy theories, but this whole setup sounds fishy.

      • by swalve ( 1980968 )
        People are attracted to Trump for two reasons: they are too stupid to know any better, and more importantly, stupid people LOVE a bully when they think they are on the same side.
    • ...so why in the everliving hell didn't *either* campaign just keep the gathered data in servers (and behind firewalls) that they would exclusively control and maintain?

      • I think the idea is that the DNC is allowed to use both lists to support other candidates (for Congress, the Senate, etc.) and that once somebody wins the Democrat primary, they get access to the other lists.
    • Why did he need to be fired? The data was out in the open... if they didn't want people to see it, it should have been secured.
    • Lesson learned : go to the media and let them know there's a problem. Wasserman Schultz is a total c---...
  • Is that the other two campaigns didn't notice. Vigilance is needed these days to be a good President. Look what happened when Condi played games ignoring Clarke.
    • by GlennC ( 96879 )

      That assumes that the other campaigns..."coughClintoncough"...didn't plan this to attempt to discredit Senator Sanders.

      At this point, the Party is doing everything it can to have the general election be Hilary versus either Jeb or Marco.

    • Other TWO campaigns??? Martin O'Who???
      • by Chris Johnson ( 580 ) on Friday December 18, 2015 @01:03PM (#51144163) Homepage Journal

        Oh my GOD! it was him all along!

        And he would have gotten away with it, too, if it wasn't for those meddling kids!

      • He has a pretty good record on the environment here in Maryland. I'm not a Democrat but I'm seen what dynasties have done to the Republicans and how it hurt the country so I do worry that Democrats could end up doing the same. Bill would not have missed this. Why did Hillary?
        • Looked at his website. Not bad on energy and education. Debt free college and this: "We can’t meet the climate challenge with an all-of-the-above energy strategy, or from drilling off our coasts, or from building pipelines that bring oil from tar sands in Canada. Meeting the climate challenge requires a commitment to one simple concept: a full transition to clean, renewable energy and an end our reliance on fossil fuels altogether."
      • Other TWO campaigns??? Martin O'Who???

        There was also Lessig and Chafee.

        Say what you want about Lessig's campaign, but it raised more money and polled higher than Chafee and I think was on par with O'Malley, but the DNC set up the rules and then changed the rules to keep Lessig out of the debates.

        Howard Dean's DFA (Democracy For America) group voted to endorse Sanders this week, so the timing of this move by the DNC against Sanders is interesting.

        Clinton has already been anointed as the party's candidate by the DNC. They just have to make

  • by sasparillascott ( 1267058 ) on Friday December 18, 2015 @12:22PM (#51143851)
    The DNC doesn't want Sanders to be their candidate any more than the leadership of the GOP desperately doesn't want Trump to be their candidate - cause they both are afraid it would cost them the election at the Presidential and Senate level (and House seats too). Expect the DNC to do anything it can PR wise to help the expected winner to win. JMHO...
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward
      If nominated Bernie is certainly capable of winning the general election, polling about as well or better than Hillary against all the GOP candidates. He also excites the Democratic base while Hillary does not, and would have much longer coattails than Hillary as well. The DNC doesn't want Bernie to win because he's not a subsidiary of Wall Street while Hillary and the DNC leadership are.

      This is the real fight this year: Hillary vs Bernie. The general election won't matter.
    • by dywolf ( 2673597 )

      it has more to do with DWS wanting to ensure a Hillary nom at any and all costs, regardless of any actual electoral outcomes at other levels.

  • by Chris Johnson ( 580 ) on Friday December 18, 2015 @12:23PM (#51143863) Homepage Journal

    Also, while yammering away about a guy and his exploit through a firewall he himself didn't shut down

    The DNC are using this as an excuse to lock the Sanders campaign out of its OWN DATA until whenever.

    That data is how we print up lists of voters, addresses, phone numbers, and how we record people's reactions and what they care about. It goes into an NGP-VAN server and will eventually be used by ALL the Dem candidates.

    And for 'whatever reason', the Democratic National Committee has decided to tell NGP-VAN to lock the Bernie campaign out of its own data, when we are counting the days until the first primaries.

    While arguing about the guy and how guilty he is of data intrusion, try to consider whether it's worth shutting down the whole campaign and locking them out of their computer systems until (unspecified impossible conditions here). Because this is looking like an intra-Democrat coup to coronate Hillary Clinton, and that really helps nobody.

    • That data is how we print up lists of voters, addresses, phone numbers, and how we record people's reactions and what they care about.

      Because you used "we" there, I'm curious if you're associated with Sanders' campaign, or for that matter Clinton's or even the DNC in general. If so, do you know the guy who accessed the data? ...and is Chris Johnson your real name?

      I'm just curious (about at least one of those questions, anyway), I've donated to Sanders myself.

      • by Chris Johnson ( 580 ) on Friday December 18, 2015 @01:16PM (#51144269) Homepage Journal

        Yeah, that's me. I am a low level data peon typing in the results of canvassing and phone-banking in Keene, New Hampshire. I'm from Vermont, which is how I know about Bernie, and I'm working directly for Bernie's campaign. It's cool, good people, much like the Obama campaigns except more successful.

        I've donated to Bernie too :)

        I've personally typed data into the VoteBuilder system that Bernie's not allowed to access now, so I'm taking it personally. _I_ typed that data in. I've also given money directly to Bernie's campaign. Do they propose to take that and award it to Hillary too?

        I don't know the guy that accessed the data, but I know most of what's on those servers is the voter info, and lots of it is old and obsolete.

        I just talked to my boss in the campaign and they're having some kind of meeting and press conference. We actually feel this is a sign that Bernie's doing better than expected and the DNC is panicking. We think they're probably going to give the data back because it's totally impossible to spin 'shutting off Bernie's whole campaign' over one guy who wasn't even a hacker and who went right to the company and told them what he'd done.

        On the other hand, if the DNC are dicks and we can't get access to VoteBuilder, we've already seen enough to know the depth of support for Bernie, so we'll just have to go door-to-door without voter lists or data entry. Pure canvassing and ground game, the most important part.

        We can tell them what the Democrats are doing to try and stop us (this is why they're bound to give the data back: trying to shut us down that way makes Hillary look very bad. Her people run the DNC and also that database company itself) and we don't technically need VoteBuilder, it just helps organize stuff. You might say maybe we should be knocking on ALL the doors anyway!

        They can shut off the computers, but they can't shut off their own voters. And the Dem voters don't have to be turned off, we just need to get out there and talk to people. Bernie's an honest guy and has many great plans that will help the country, even as screwy as it is. We'll give people a chance to vote for Bernie: both in the primary, and then for President. And the country will start growing again, and rebuilding itself, which will put a lot of people to work.

        • by amicusNYCL ( 1538833 ) on Friday December 18, 2015 @01:31PM (#51144379)

          This whole thing stinks, it stinks because the co-owner of NGP VAN was Clinton's chief technology officer for her 2008 campaign. If there was proof that her campaign has had access to all of the DNC data during the entire campaign it wouldn't surprise me, the DNC and their pundits have clearly been trying to push the narrative that she is the presumed candidate, despite Sanders' surge in popularity, and I'm sure they're willing to do whatever they can to help her and prove themselves right. It doesn't really mean anything for Clinton's former CTO to say that he pinky-swears that their campaign never accessed the other side. It also makes no sense that anyone running a sensitive system would keep that system online while the firewall is offline for maintenance. If the data is important enough to have a firewall there, then before you take the firewall down you need to make sure that the data isn't going to be accessed or compromised in the meantime.

  • by An Ominous Canard ( 4028023 ) on Friday December 18, 2015 @12:23PM (#51143865)
    This could easily be shooting the messenger. The fellow responsible for protecting the Sanders campaign's voter data discovered that the DNC's patch had left their voter information database wide open. He starts determining the extent of the problem, which leaves an audit trail. As a result, he gets tossed over the side. Compare this to the commercial world. When you let one of your business customers discover that you've left their trade secrets wide open to their competitors, what happens? I guarantee that the employee who discovered it does not get sacked.
  • Hurts, doesn't it?
  • Does not compute (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Sumus Semper Una ( 4203225 ) on Friday December 18, 2015 @01:02PM (#51144143)

    Let's try a somewhat-analogous scenario as a thought exercise:

    I find out that on my bank's website, I can easily see my neighbor's bank account by doing some obvious URL manipulation.
    I immediately tell the bank that I'm worried about the security of my own account because I know that I could go into anyone else's.
    The bank locks me, and only me, from accessing any bank accounts, including my own.

    That response makes no sense. The only proper response would be to revoke ALL access to the bank's website until such time as the security hole can be confirmed fixed. Otherwise, the implied message is that you should NEVER tell the bank that they have a potential problem.

    I just wonder whether this was actually a story of extreme incompetence or extreme corruption.

    • Let's try a somewhat-analogous scenario as a thought exercise:

      I find out that on my bank's website, I can easily see my neighbor's bank account by doing some obvious URL manipulation.
      I immediately tell the bank that I'm worried about the security of my own account because I know that I could go into anyone else's.The bank locks me, and only me, from accessing any bank accounts, including my own.
      That response makes no sense. The only proper response would be to revoke ALL access to the bank's website until such time as the security hole can be confirmed fixed. Otherwise, the implied message is that you should NEVER tell the bank that they have a potential problem.

      That may be the only proper response, but history shows pretty definitively that the actual response will be to do nothing other than lock you out of everything. People in power are vain and insecure. They deal with bug reports by killing the messenger. every. time.

    • In this case, a more accurate example would be you doing a search for transaction data using the bank's own search feature and finding transactions from your neighbor mixed in with your own data. The guy wasn't hacking. It was openly displayed and mixed with their own data. The first time it happened, they reported it immediately and the vendor said they would fix the issue. This time, he did some searches to find out what was going on and got locked out and accused of looking at his neighbor's transact
    • I just wonder whether this was actually a story of extreme incompetence or extreme corruption.

      Grey's law: Sufficiently advanced incompetence is indistinguishable from malice.

  • sniff sniff (Score:5, Insightful)

    by WOOFYGOOFY ( 1334993 ) on Friday December 18, 2015 @01:07PM (#51144201)

    I smell a double agent.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    Killary's friends run that company who host the database. It's a sham! Killary is a criminal! Nothing more than a chance for her to eliminate the competition!

    You Democrats are nothing more than criminals! Chrony capitalism at its finest!

  • While we are all assuming this is a hatchet job to get Bernie locked out, these "intermittent firewall drops" could, in fact, be Hillary having arranged for her people to be able to spy on him - but nobody is mentioning that in the news articles. P.S. 15 years as a network engineer and i still dont know why the press uses the term firewall so loosely. If it was sincerely a layer 3/4 security device, there would be lots of evidence as to exactly what happened - unless logging were disabled. I think in thi
    • by Yew2 ( 1560829 )
      that and a real firewall wouldnt intermittently "disappear"
    • by hesiod ( 111176 )

      The term "firewall" has meanings beyond "network security device/software".

    • While we are all assuming this is a hatchet job to get Bernie locked out, these "intermittent firewall drops" could, in fact, be Hillary having arranged for her people to be able to spy on him - but nobody is mentioning that in the news articles.

      Psh. You're only saying that because the co-owner of the vendor handling all of the data was Clinton's CTO in 2008. They don't need to go through the system to access that data, they can just have it handed straight to them.

      P.S. 15 years as a network engineer and i still dont know why the press uses the term firewall so loosely.

      It's a pretty loose term for something designed to provide security through separation. When software and network appliances for restricting access came to be, the name was borrowed from automotive or building construction.

  • Today I'm contributing to Bernie's campaign.
  • by Spy Handler ( 822350 ) on Friday December 18, 2015 @02:25PM (#51144825) Homepage Journal

    The Powers That Be have stacked the deck against Bernie in every way imaginable. DNC chairman is a former Clinton campaign manager. They cut the number of primary debates because they learned from focus groups that the more people see and learn about Hillary, less they like her, while the opposite was true for Bernie -- his favorability went up the more people learned about him.

    Not only that, the few remaining debates have been scheduled to attracted as little viewership as possible (Saturday and Sunday nights, opposite major sporting events, Xmas shopping season, etc)

    This latest flap is just a curt reminder for Bernie that he's just here as a prop and that he needs to know his place.

  • by ScooterComputer ( 10306 ) on Friday December 18, 2015 @02:28PM (#51144847)

    [I have no interest in voting for a socialist as President. Just not my politics. Also there is also NO WAY I'd vote for Hillary Clinton. NO WAY. But...]

    After all the political snafus and screw-ups that the Democrats have been involved with in the past 30 years, one thing is clear: NO ONE ever gets fired. Ever.

    So, if Bernie Sanders helmed a campaign that FIRED someone--I humbly submit that if you're trying to decide between the two, and don't want more of the same from this f'd up political system--Bernie should DEFINITELY get your vote.

  • that Bernie is at the stage "then they fight you"? Because if true, only one step remains to be taken ("then you win" - the nomination, at least).

    2016 will be a very interesting year...

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