The FBI has opened up an investigation into cyberattacks that targeted a California Democrat who eventually lost a tight House primary race earlier this year, according to Rolling Stone, citing a source close to the campaign.
The inquiry centers on distributed denial of service (DDoS) attacks against the campaign website for Bryan Caforio, who finished third in the June primary. He was running in California’s 25th Congressional District, which is represented by Republican Rep. Steve Knight and is considered a seat that Democrats could flip in November.
The attacks involved creating artificially heavy traffic on his website that forced the hosting company to block access to bryancaforio.com four times before the primary, including during a crucial debate and in the week before the primary. No website data was accessed from the site during the attacks.
“I’m glad the FBI has now launched an investigation into the hack,” Caforio told Rolling Stone in a statement. “These attacks put our democracy at risk, and they’ll keep happening until we take them seriously and start to punish those responsible.”
An FBI spokesperson told The Hill that the agency “does not confirm or deny the existence of investigations."
Two other California Democrats — Hans Keirstead and David Min — were also victims of cyberattacks against their campaigns, raising the question of whether sufficient protections to guard against cyberattacks were put in place. They, too, were running in tight House races.
The nonpartisan Cook Political Report lists all three races as toss-ups.
Cyberattacks came to the fore of American politics after Russia mounted an influence campaign to subvert the 2016 presidential election, resorting to tactics such as hacking emails from Democratic operatives and using social media to ignite fiery debates on hot-button issues.