Bryan Caforio, former House candidate, suffered repeated cyberattacks before primary defeat: Report

September 20, 2018

Bryan Caforio, a former Democratic candidate for Congress, was reportedly on the receiving end of no fewer than four separate cyberattacks prior to narrowly finishing third in California’s state primary.

Mr. Caforio’s campaign website was unreachable for a total of 21 hours during the course of the primary season including during a major debate and a few days before the election as a result of at least four distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attacks, Rolling Stone reported Thursday.

The incidents were brought to the attention of both the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC), the report said, adding Mr. Caforio’s failed run for the House to a growing list of campaigns to report alleged hacking attempts in the months before the November midterm elections.

“As I saw firsthand, dealing with cyberattacks is the new normal when running for office, forcing candidates to spend time fending off those attacks when they should be out talking to voters,” Mr. Caforio told the magazine.

The attacks were achieved by overwhelming Mr. Caforio’s website with illegitimate traffic, effectively rendering it inaccessible during crucial moments of his campaign, including immediately before, during and after he debated fellow Democrats hoping to unseat incumbent Rep. Steve Knight, California Republican, in the state’s 25th District, Rolling Stone reported.

Mr. Caforio’s website was again inaccessible for several hours a week before the primary election, potentially keeping voters from researching the candidate during the crucial end of his campaign, the magazine reported. Ultimately he received only a few thousand votes fewer than fellow Democratic hopeful Katie Hill during the state’s June 5 top-two primary, losing his chance to compete head-to-head against Mr. Knight in the November midterms.

Conducted during a five-week span through April and May, the attacks against Mr. Carofio constitute at least the fourth waged against a candidate competing in the 2018 race and the third in California albeit the first known instance involving suspected DDoS attacks, Rolling Stone reported.

Former congressional candidate Hans Keirstead said in August that his Democratic campaign to unseat Rep. Dana Rohrabacher, a California Republican representing the state’s 48th district, suffered a sustained and “sophisticated” cyberattack, and Reuters reported days later that the FBI was investigating a successful hack affecting David Min, a Democrat who had hoped to compete against Rep. Mimi Walters, a California Republican representing the neighboring 45th district.

In July, meanwhile, Sen. Claire McCaskill, Missouri Democrat, claimed her campaign had been targeted in 2017 by Russian hackers.

Sen. Ron Wyden, Oregon Democrat, said Tuesday that “at least one major technology company has informed a number of Senators and Senate staff members that their personal email accounts were targeted by foreign government hackers,” raising concerns in light of Russian hackers allegedly breaching both the DCCC and Democratic National Committee during the 2016 race.

“The November election grows ever closer, Russia continues its attacks on our democracy, and the Senate simply does not have the luxury of further delays,” Mr. Wyden wrote in a letter to Senate leadership.

Russian hackers interfered in the 2016 election, according to U.S. intelligence and law enforcement officials, and the Department of Justice has filed criminal charges against several Russian nationals in connection with related conduct.

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