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Fri Apr 22, 2016, 04:05 PM

How to Hack an Election

Andrés Sepúlveda rigged elections throughout Latin America for almost a decade. He tells his story for the first time.

It was just before midnight when Enrique Peña Nieto declared victory as the newly elected president of Mexico. Peña Nieto was a lawyer and a millionaire, from a family of mayors and governors. Returning the party to power on that night in July 2012, Peña Nieto vowed to tame drug violence, fight corruption, and open a more transparent era in Mexican politics.

Two thousand miles away, in an apartment in Bogotá’s upscale Chicó Navarra neighborhood, Andrés Sepúlveda sat before six computer screens. Sepúlveda is Colombian, brick-like, with a shaved head, goatee, and a tattoo of a QR code containing an encryption key on the back of his head. On his nape are the words “</head>” and “<body>” stacked atop each other, dark riffs on coding. He was watching a live feed of Peña Nieto’s victory party, waiting for an official declaration of the results.

When Peña Nieto won, Sepúlveda began destroying evidence. He shredded documents and flushed them down the toilet and erased servers in Russia and Ukraine rented anonymously with Bitcoins. He was dismantling what he says was a secret history of one of the dirtiest Latin American campaigns in recent memory.

For eight years, Sepúlveda, now 31, says he traveled the continent rigging major political campaigns. With a budget of $600,000, the Peña Nieto job was by far his most complex. He led a team of hackers that stole campaign strategies, manipulated social media to create false waves of enthusiasm and derision, and installed spyware in opposition offices, all to help Peña Nieto, a right-of-center candidate, eke out a victory.

Sepúlveda’s career began in 2005, and his first jobs were small—mostly defacing campaign websites and breaking into opponents’ donor databases. Within a few years he was assembling teams that spied, stole, and smeared on behalf of presidential campaigns across Latin America. He wasn’t cheap, but his services were extensive. For $12,000 a month, a customer hired a crew that could hack smartphones, spoof and clone Web pages, and send mass e-mails and texts. The premium package, at $20,000 a month, also included a full range of digital interception, attack, decryption, and defense. The jobs were carefully laundered through layers of middlemen and consultants. Sepúlveda says many of the candidates he helped might not even have known about his role; he says he met only a few.

His teams worked on presidential elections in Nicaragua, Panama, Honduras, El Salvador, Colombia, Mexico, Costa Rica, Guatemala, and Venezuela. Many of Sepúlveda’s efforts were unsuccessful; but he has enough wins that he might be able to claim as much influence over the political direction of modern Latin America as anyone in the 21st century.

“My job was to do actions of dirty war and psychological operations, black propaganda, rumors—the whole dark side of politics that nobody knows exists but everyone can see,” he says in Spanish, while sitting in an outdoor courtyard deep within the heavily fortified offices of Colombia’s attorney general’s office. He’s serving 10 years in prison for charges including use of malicious software, conspiracy to commit crime, violation of personal data, and espionage, related to hacking during Colombia’s 2014 presidential election.

He has agreed to tell his full story for the first time, hoping to convince the public that he’s rehabilitated—and gather support for a reduced sentence.

At: http://www.bloomberg.com/features/2016-how-to-hack-an-election/

Posted earlier today by berniepdx420 on GDP (http://www.democraticunderground.com/12511810858). Probably fun and games compared to what's happening here as we speak.

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Reply How to Hack an Election (Original post)
forest444 Apr 2016 OP
questionseverything Apr 2016 #1
Thinkingabout Apr 2016 #2
George II Apr 2016 #3
clarkkentvotes Sep 2016 #4
forest444 Sep 2016 #5

Response to forest444 (Original post)

Fri Apr 22, 2016, 04:28 PM

2. Yesterday a post was made with a link to a video producted by telesur

This company is associated with South American companies mentioned in your post. It was trash talking about Hillary, saying lots of things but no proof. It was supposed to be a video which could bring down Hillary. Now your post talks about influencing elections in South American countries. We don't need the corruption here and with some of the recent events it makes me ponder why this would be happening.

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Response to forest444 (Original post)

Fri Apr 22, 2016, 07:05 PM

3. When Americans start holding their elections in Mexico, I'll worry. Until then............


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Response to forest444 (Original post)

Sun Sep 25, 2016, 11:34 PM

4. maybe it still is psychological

Last edited Mon Sep 26, 2016, 01:23 AM - Edit history (1)

& perhaps he is trying to de-legitimize those countries you mentioned - probably not -

actually he does seem pretty cheap to be honest -

perhaps voting should be on Cspan so we can all see it live -

perhaps bills should be broken up to one page and each issue should be voted on its own - it is crazy how many issues by polls Americans agree upon like minimum wage and single payer and ending the drug war however nothing hardly ever gets done - it is like who is representing us?

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Response to clarkkentvotes (Reply #4)

Mon Sep 26, 2016, 12:17 AM

5. It seems Sepúlveda was trying to impact the outcome of said elections - but at whose behest?

The simple fact is that electronic voting and tabulation systems have repeatedly been shown to not only be prone to hacking; but that they seem to have deliberately been designed that way. This was, in fact, the finding of Dutch election authorities in 2007 - who then promptly discarded all electronic voting machines.

Here in the U.S. - where, lest we forget, our democracy has been under undisguised attack by right-wing billionaires by way of the Supreme Court among others - you would think that this would be a settled matter by now, given all we've known since the days of Diebold. the 2004 Ohio irregularities, as well as Bev Harris' groundbreaking film Hacking America.

But for many - including a few here on DU (granted, they may be trolls) - it's just too awful to believe. It's a shame, because burying our heads in the sand won't help matters (on the contrary).

As mere observers. of course, we can only hope and trust that computer security experts will be on the case on election night (as they were in 2012, when Rove apparently had hackers attempt to tamper with the Ohio vote).

On a lighter note, welcome to DU Clarkkentvotes! Truth, Justice, and the American Way, right?

All the Best.

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