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Recent hacks against US election watchdog seen as 'worst' in its history

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US Election Voting Ballot booth (STOCK)
US Election Voting Ballot booth (STOCK)

The Food and Drug Administration was not the only government organization to get hacked during the government shutdown: a similarly serious security issue occurred at the Federal Election Committee back in October, in what The Center for Public Integrity now calls "the worst act of sabotage in its 38-year history." An attack led by Chinese hackers resulted in systems containing campaign funding amounts and other sensitive information to go offline. The end result was a crippled system, and what The Center for Public Integrity says is just the latest malady to affect the organization, which is "rotting from the inside out."

Just the latest malady

In a scathing piece that's the result of a six-month-long investigation, The Center says the FEC is falling apart — something that should be a concern given its role of keeping tabs on and policing political campaign finance laws. The independent regulatory agency was formed in 1975, but has spent the past five years with flat funding, understaffing, and a massive backlog of compliance reports. All this is cause for concern, The Center says, given that a midterm election and 2016 presidential election are just around the corner.

Adding insult to injury, The Center notes that the FEC was warned of weak security as part of an independent security audit, something the agency brushed off. The FDA wasn't as lucky, suffering its own breach during the shutdown. That attack resulted in a compromise of names, phone numbers, passwords, and other sensitive information on some 14,000 accounts, something that is currently being probed by US Energy and Commerce committee.

However there is one bright spot for the FEC, The Center says: a pair of new commissioners who were sworn in just before the hack could shake things up before they get worse. Republican Lee Goodman and Democrat Ann Ravel were confirmed in September, and are expected to take the top spots at the agency in the coming months.