Cyber security is a big priority as feds probe hack of DNC emails

Cyber security is a big priority as feds probe hack of DNC emails

NEW ORLEANS, LA (WVUE) - Experts said having information comprised at the local level could impact the federal government as cyber security becomes a bigger issue.

It comes as the FBI investigates whether a foreign government is at the root of the hack and release of Democratic National Committee emails.

"We've had sabotage forever, and this is just a new form of sabotage," said Chris Fettweis, an international relations and foreign policy expert at Tulane University in New Orleans.

Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton's camp believes the Russian government is behind the hack to help GOP rival Donald Trump. Trump thinks that is far-fetched.

But the country's National Intelligence Director James Clapper said earlier this year that they have seen indications of foreign hackers spying on presidential campaigns, and more such activity is expected.

"They've certainly have used hacking in the past to get political results. It's their modus operandi," said James Lewis, of the Center for Strategic and International Studies.

Fettweis believes the Russians have a grudge against Clinton from her Secretary of State days.

""My sense is that Putin likes to do stuff like this, or have his minions do stuff like this. They thought that she was involved in the Ukraine crisis, that they stoked the fires in Ukraine, so he has a long standing grievance with the Clinton team," Fettweis said.

And there is nothing to keep international hackers from zeroing in on state and local politicians, if they have not already.

"If in fact it's a foreign government, a hostile intelligence service, their idea is to get into the local government, get inside, and from there move forward to find the connections to the federal government," said former New Orleans FBI Special-agent-in-Charge James Bernazzani.

New Orleans City Hall and representatives of state government told FOX 8 that they take cyber security seriously. The city released the following statement:

"Cyber Security is a priority for the City of New Orleans, and we are constantly monitoring for potential threats to our computer systems. Over the last two years, we have made investments to upgrade our cyber security and systems with multiple layers of protection from computer viruses, malware and those intending to infiltrate our system. The City's cyber security protection efforts are in line with the Obama Administration's Cybersecurity Framework, which recognizes that cyber security protection relies on developing practices, guidelines and standards to promote the protection of critical infrastructure."

The state also released a statement:

"Louisiana's state government has sufficient safeguards in place to guarantee a high level of cybersecurity. The State of Louisiana remains vigilant by ensuring continuous investment and support for information assurance and cybersecurity. With ongoing support from all state agencies, our Information Security team uses a wide range of safeguards to protect and monitor acceptable use of the state's confidential and restricted information."

Bernazzani said that is wise, given the cyber intrusiveness.

"Will try to exploit social media, which is exploding right now and it's up to law enforcement, and to be quite frank we're behind it and we have to catch up," said Bernazzani.

"Sometimes it's to gather information to see if there's anything that can be black-mailable. Sometimes it's a teenager in his basement, sometimes it's somebody employed by the government, and the Chinese have hundreds of people trying to hack in to various stuff," added Fettweis.

"Whatever you write on social media, you should be comfortable if it's on the front page of the newspaper," Bernazzani warned.

Concerns about local government cyber-attacks are so serious that in 2014 the White House held a summit of sorts to discuss the implementation of a State and Local Government Cyber-Security Framework for improving security.

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