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Democrats embarrassed, yes, but DNC hack could just elevate cyberwarfare

If Russia is found to be behind the Democratic National Committee hack and subsequent leaks of information, that infiltration would represent a paradigm shift in cyberwarfare, said security experts.

"There's been a line that has been crossed and there has to be some type of response if, indeed, there is a nation state responsible," said Chris Finan, a former White House cybersecurity director in the Obama administration.

On Friday, WikiLeaks released some 19,000 DNC emails and attachments — the latest in a series of releases of sensitive information stolen from hacked DNC servers, and released in the run-up to the U.S. presidential election.

Several weeks ago, Russian hackers were reported to have breached the DNC's servers, but WikiLeaks has refused to disclose where it obtained the information, which seems to show party leaders favoring Hillary Clinton, now the presumptive nominee, over Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders.

"You can't let it go unaddressed, because otherwise you are leaving our political institutions vulnerable to this type of intrusion in the future," said Finan, who is now the CEO of data security firm Manifold.

On Monday, the FBI finally acknowledged that it is investigating the breach and promised to hold those responsible accountable. The security firm hired by the DNC to investigate the hack, CrowdStrike, found that Russian intelligence-affiliated groups infiltrated the DNC network as far back as last summer. The political parties are likely doubling down on their cybersecurity investments right now, said Justin Harvey, chief security officer of Fidelis Cybersecurity.

The DNC hack is evidence that the data breach is becoming a tool of global and geo-political influence, wielded by motivated state actors, said security experts. From the Bradley Manning leak of hundreds of thousands of secret military and diplomatic documents to WikiLeaks in 2010, to the Edward Snowden NSA...