by WorldTribune Staff, September 17, 2017
Imran Awan, the former IT staffer for Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, used a secret server and a file hosting service that congressional staffers are prohibited from using to store massive amounts of Democrats’ data, according to reports.
Awan, who is under indictment for bank fraud, conspiracy and making false statements, allegedly routed data from numerous House Democrats to a secret server, according to report by the Daily Caller News Foundation.
The report noted that Awan “had access to all emails and office computer files of 45 members of Congress. Fear among members that Awan could release embarrassing information if they cooperated with prosecutors could explain why the Democrats have refused to acknowledge the cybersecurity breach publicly or criticize the suspects.”
“Police grew suspicious and requested a copy of the server early this year, but they were provided with an elaborate falsified image designed to hide the massive violations,” the report by Luke Rosiak said. “The falsified image is what ultimately triggered their ban from the House network.”
Authorities considered the false image they received to be interference in a criminal investigation, a senior House official with direct knowledge of the investigation told the Daily Caller.
All data of House members is supposed to be stored on individual servers, but Awan “moved files to a computer that was only supposed to hold the files of the administrative office of the Democratic Caucus,” the senior official said.
“Imran Awan is the walking example of an insider threat, a criminal actor who had access to everything,” the senior official said.
Awan also backed up massive amounts of Democrats’ data to the Dropbox file hosting service, the official said.
“Congressional offices are prohibited from using Dropbox, so an unofficial account was used, meaning Awan could have still had access to the data even though he was banned from the congressional network,” the report said.
A senior House official told Circa that Awan was uploading “terabits” of information to Dropbox and possibly could have sold the data to foreign governments.
“I think this may lead to information as to who really accessed the DNC server,” said the official. “Everybody talks about Russia – but look at the access (Awan) had and potentially those emails could have been sold.”
Circa cited a former U.S. official as saying the Awan case “could potentially be one of the largest security breaches involving members of Congress.”
“It has all the hallmarks of blackmail, spy craft – it’s hard to believe that this is plain old bank fraud,” the ex-official said. “There is enormous concerns that they accessed information that could potentially put congressional members at threat of being blackmailed.”