Hillary Clinton again refused on Friday to describe what security measures were taken to protect the private email system she used as secretary of state. Instead, she offered a cagey response which highlights a notable shift in how she and her campaign are discussing the security of her home-brew system.
“What safeguards did you put in place to make sure that you weren’t hacked?” a reporter with the Boston Globe asked Clinton during an interview in Keene, N.H.
“Well, I can only tell you there is no evidence that I’m aware of that I ever was,” Clinton responded.
Clinton’s response mirrors that of her campaign, which has adopted a strategy of portraying questions about her email system as part of a right-wing conspiracy being coordinated by the House Select Committee on Benghazi. Meanwhile, many cybersecurity and national defense experts worry that the bigger scandal in the Clinton email fiasco is not the contents of the emails themselves, but the vulnerability of her system to attack by sophisticated hackers.
At the Democratic debate in Las Vegas on Tuesday, The Daily Caller directly asked John Podesta, Clinton’s campaign chairman, if he could say with absolute certainty that Clinton’s email system was not hacked.
He could not.
“There’s no indication that they were [hacked],” he said during a brief exchange in the spin room. “You’re speculating.”
Clinton’s use of heavy qualifiers in discussing her email system security is a stark difference to how she addressed the issue when it first broke onto the national stage in March.
“The system we used was set up for President Clinton’s office, and it had numerous safeguards. It was on property guarded by Secret Service and there were no security breaches,” Clinton said with unqualified confidence.
The shift in language comes after revelations that hackers did ping Clinton’s email address and her server. The revelations that Clinton’s server contained classified emails adds to the concern over the hardware’s security gaps.
In Aug. 2011, hackers with servers operating out of Russia sent Clinton five emails disguised as New York City traffic tickets. That hacking attempt — known as phishing — likely was not the work of sophisticated hackers, but it indicated that Clinton’s email setup had a weak spam management system. (RELATED: Experts: Hillary’s ‘Amateur Hour’ Email System Setup Was Vulnerable To Hackers)
Clinton’s server was the target of another more serious hacking attempt in late-2012. A hacker-researcher using computers in Serbia scanned hundreds of millions of Internet Protocol addresses at the time scanned Clinton’s server at least twice. The scan revealed security gaps in Clinton’s hardware. It is unclear whether the hackers knew that the server belonged to a high-level U.S. official.
The FBI is reportedly investigating the security of Clinton’s server. The agency is also reportedly looking into whether Clinton’s email arrangement violated a portion of the Espionage Act which deals with “gross negligence.” ((RELATED: ‘Gross Negligence’: Hillary’s Email Investigation Focuses On Possible Espionage Act Violations)