A "low-down" on the Clinton Email Controversy

Tired of reading all the time about Clinton Email's server and everything in between? Check us out here to get a quick refresh of what has happened, and the implications for future cyber security and politics in the USofA.

US, Clinton, and the never-ending “Email Scandals”

Many of us will agree that so far 2016 has been a very complicated, long and difficult year. What many people consider one of the most shocking events of the year is the American Presidential Election. Both of the candidates running for the position of becoming new president of the United States have been quite controversial, one more than the other. Hillary Clinton was in many headlines due to her email scandal. If you are unaware what exactly happened, then this article is perfect for you! The aim of this article is to help you complete the research on the presidential nominees and to discuss what the whole scandal means towards cyber security.

How did Hillary Clinton cause a scandal?

Hillary Clinton email scandal is not as complicated issue as it sounds, however the storm that it caused when it came to the public light is the real trouble. Not only it became the black spot on her presidential campaign, it has also become a topic that she is shamed for. What actually happened is that back in 2009, Clinton set up her own private email domain that she started to use exclusively for her work and personal emails. Once the became the secretary of state, she continued to use her own private email rather than using the government’s system set up for her which she should have used when addressing the State Department messages. However, it is unclear if the State Department was unaware of her using a private email account, as she was personally paying a State Department official Bryan Pagliano to maintain her server. Yet it was in 2013 when the email address came to public knowledge. A hacker distributed some emails from a Clinton White House aid about the security situation in Libya. Once those email were distributed it became obvious to the media that Clinton was conducting her official work business via private account.

What Happened Next?

In 2014, it was decided by the House of Representatives to create a Committee on the Events that surrounded the 2012 Terrorist Attack in Benghazi, Libya. The purpose of the Committee was to examine the government's actions that could be related to the attacks that killed four Americans. In order to create a complete report all sort of record were required including emails sent from Hillary Clinton’s private email address that addressed the issue. It was not only that Clinton that had to submit information, all former secretaries has to send over emails that dealt with official business that were sent out while using private email accounts. That same year, in December, Hillary Clinton submitted work-related emailed to the State Department, but deleted all personal emails from her server. The process of reviewing the emails for information started.
In July it became clear that some of the emails that had been in Clinton’s private server contained classified information. Some emails contained top secret information and once that was established, it became a reason for concern that a lot of classified information might be stored on servers that are outside of government's control. That is a problem, as servers like that can be hacked easily, making it possible for the classified information to turn into the wrong hands which in itself might cause a national threat.

Is Clinton Technically a Criminal?

Hillary Clinton did not commit a crime as there was simply not enough evidence to show that she actually did something wrong (that was the conclusion of her congressional hearing anyways…). However, we at ZenMate aren’t as much into the politics as the cybersecurity side of it all.
What got her into trouble in the first place (and is an important factor in our eyes) is she claimed that there were none classified emails on her server. It became an even bigger problem when 31,803 of her private emails were deleted because her team decided for themselves that those ones did not require turning over. It seems that now there was no way to actually know if any of deleted emails contained classified information or not. What is more, her aids never explained which methods they used to decide if the emails were personal or business related and there is already proof that the system was imperfect. The State Department just had to compare emails that had been sent to Clinton from former aids and see if any information that she had turned over matched those emails.
Did Hillary Clinton actually do something wrong? Opinions on that differ. Technically, out of the vast amount of emails only a handful was classified as confidential. A valid point was brought up by her team claiming that the process which the government uses to classify information is complicated. Often information gets classified over time for minimal reasons and it is impossible to know what will become classified. Of course, as a Secretary of the State and a diplomat, Hillary Clinton should have used the government email address and above anything she should have been aware that the information she was working with could have been sensitive. On the other hand, she had absolute right to delete her own emails, because private information should concern only her. What is more, she is not the only government member to use a public server for work reasons. Last but not least, there is no proof at all that her email account was hacked, so most likely none of the sensitive information was leaked. Nonetheless, the opposition have been using the whole incident heavily throughout the presidential campaigns and do not intend to stop.

Is the White House safe from future similar scandals?

No email system is 100% bulletproof. Thousands of email accounts are being hacked every day, but some hackers are so skilful that they leave no trace behind them. It has been said that Clinton should have used an “@state.gov” email address simply because it has a full-time security staff. But recently a group of Russian hackers were able to hack into the State Department email system, which only proves US CyberSecurity is not up to the standard it should be. After all the ordeal that Hillary Clinton has gone through, it is worth to mention that after the Russian hack, some government officials have turned to use private email addresses in order to avoid any future hacker disruptions.