Typo led to Podesta email hack: report

The hack and eventual release of a decade’s worth of Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonA year into his presidency, Biden is polling at an all-time low The Memo: 2024 chatter reveals Democratic nervousness Second gentleman Emhoff acts as public link to White House MORE campaign chairman John Podesta’s emails may have been caused by a typo, The New York Times reported Tuesday in an in-depth piece on Russian cyberattacks.

Last March, Podesta received an email purportedly from Google saying hackers had tried to infiltrate his Gmail account. When an aide emailed the campaign’s IT staff to ask if the notice was real, Clinton campaign aide Charles Delavan replied that it was “a legitimate email" and that Podesta should “change his password immediately.”

Instead of telling the aide that the email was a threat and that a good response would be to change his password directly through Google’s website, he had inadvertently told the aide to click on the fraudulent email and give the attackers access to the account. 

Delavan told the Times he had intended to type "illegitimate,” a typo he still has not forgiven himself for making.


The email was a phishing scam that ultimately revealed Podesta’s password to hackers. Soon after, WikiLeaks began releasing 10 years of his emails.

In late October the firm SecureWorks identified a Bit.ly account and WikiLeaks-released email that appeared to have been used to attack Podesta’s account. 

The Bit.ly service shortens web addresses, which can make them easier to share — and less likely to set off malicious website alarms.

SecureWorks found a Bit.ly account being used by hackers containing links to a spate of phishing sites with victim information encoded in the web address. 

SecureWorks soon found the email, and Delavan’s response, in the WikiLeaks archive. 

The Podesta leaks dominated the news cycle toward the end of the presidential campaign. The leaked material brought to light the fact that then-CNN contributor and now-interim Democratic National Committee (DNC) Chairwoman Donna Brazile gave the Clinton camp advance warning of questions that would be asked during primary debates.

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