Tags: 2020 Elections | Donald Trump | Hillary Clinton | Joe Biden | hacking | presidental election

What Role Will Hack-For-Hire Underworld Play in 2020 Election?

gloved hand with phone in front of screen with computer code
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By Wednesday, 08 July 2020 02:19 PM Current | Bio | Archive

Opposition Research is defined by the website Lexico as "Investigation into the dealings of political opponents, typically in order to discredit them publicly."

For years, the practice of harvesting intelligence on political adversaries for the purpose of torpedoing their election prospects by using legal, medical, criminal, educational or financial history has been widely exercised, particularly during campaign season. At times, research can go as far as utilizing "trackers" that follow an candidate, much like a private investigator would follow a subject, and record their activities in an effort to find any information regarding relationships or activities that can be potentially damaging to their campaign.

One of the savviest practitioners of opposition research ever, former RNC Chairman and Republican political consultant and strategist, the late Lee Atwater, was a lightning rod for controversy due to his extremely aggressive and pull-no-punches style of campaign management that was decades ahead of its time. Among the nuggets of damaging information publicized against Democratic candidates under his watch was the fact that 1984 Democratic vice-presidential nominee Geraldine Ferraro's parents had been indicted on numbers running in the 1940s.

Atwater, who was taken from us far too soon, is also alleged to have made a deathbed confession to rival Democratic operative, Raymond Strother, that the infamous Monkey Business weekend that sunk former Colorado Senator and 1988 Presidential favorite, Gary Hart, was orchestrated by him.

What Atwater is best known for however, are ads attacking Democratic presidential nominee and Former Massachusetts Governor Michael Dukakis during the 1988 presidential election cycle that were centered around furloughed convicted felon William R. Horton. As a result of a Dukakis veto of a bill that prevented the furlough of first-degree murderers, Horton received a weekend reprieve while serving a life sentence for the first-degree murder of a child during a robbery. Horton would subsequently kidnap a young couple and proceed to torture the man and repeatedly rape the woman.

Although Dukakis attempted to portray himself as a political moderate, the Horton ads reinforced the Bush campaign's assertions that Dukakis was far too liberal for America. As a result of the Horton controversy, Bush overcame an early Dukakis 17-point lead and won both the electoral college and popular vote by large margins.

Now in 2020, as the coronavirus limits campaign ground-game strategy this election cycle, will some operatives choose to engage in tactics, that while potentially effective, present certain moral and legal objections? Will hacking be a part of the 2020 winning strategy?

It is certainly not without precedent, as the Democrats have been crying foul for almost four years regarding the hacks of the Democratic National Committee's servers and the personal email of Hillary Clinton campaign manager John Podesta.

But some disturbing news that surfaced last month out of India may begin to draw the roadmap of what possible tactics may be employed in November's election. According to reports, an Indian IT firm located in Delhi, BellTroX InfoTech, has "targeted thousands of high-profile individuals and hundreds of organizations across six continents in the last seven years."

This organization is unique in that it is not a state-sponsored group, working in the interest of any particular government. This kind of activity is referred to as a hack-for-hire service that consists of commercial cyberespionage against given targets on behalf of clients willing to pay.

A recent report published by the University of Toronto's Citizen Lab indicates that BellTroX InfoTech, which is also known as "Dark Basin," targeted "advocacy groups, senior politicians, government officials, CEOs, journalists, and human rights defenders."

When this sort of "Pandora's Box" of unlimited cyber-themed political operations is opened, there really are no limits to the scope of damaging information that can possibly be discovered.

Earlier this year, a hacking attack against a high powered celebrity law firm Grubman, Shire, Meiselas & Sacks yielded cybercriminals nearly to 1TB of legal secrets from stars in the entertainment industry that included Elton John, Robert DeNiro, Madonna and supposedly even President Donald Trump.

We are still months away from any potential October surprises, but for the IT professionals assigned to protect the servers containing the communications of campaign operatives and political candidates, the landscape they are tasked with navigating on a daily basis has never contained more traps, quicksand and landmines.

Julio Rivera is a small business consultant, political activist, writer and Editorial Director for Reactionary Times. He has been a regular contributor to Newsmax TV and columnist for Newsmax.com since 2016. His writing, which is concentrated on politics, cybersecurity and sports, has also been published by websites including The Hill, The Washington Times, LifeZette, The Washington Examiner, American Thinker, The Toronto Sun and PJ Media and many others. Read Julio Rivera's Reports — More Here.

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When this sort of "Pandora's Box" of unlimited cyber-themed political operations is opened, there really are no limits to the scope of damaging information that can possibly be discovered.
hacking, presidental election
Wednesday, 08 July 2020 02:19 PM
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