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Photo: Epoxydude via Getty Images

Although the news (via Politico) that the National Republican Congressional Committee was hacked during this year's midterm election may immediately summon flashbacks to the 2016 attack on Democratic targets, we still have far too little information to know whether there are any substantial parallels.

Why it matters: We don't know who, why or how, or what attackers were even trying to accomplish with the theft. But after 2016, we do know that hacking political parties spreads distrust in many directions.

What we know: In April, an NRCC vendor discovered that the email accounts of four senior aides with "active accounts" were compromised per the original story.

  • The NRCC opted not to alert the public or several key members of Congress about the breach, which they say they hoped would allow them to further track the hacker or hackers.
  • The NRCC was, however, aware of the stir hacked emails could cause, and hired lawyers (Covington and Burling) and the political strategy firm Mercury Public Affairs to cover the breach.
  • The NRCC is cooperating with authorities and does not believe donor information has been compromised.

What we don't know: We don't know who did it. Party officials (not cybersecurity experts) told Politico they believed it was likely a nation spearheading the hack, but only because they were the target.

  • We don't know exactly who was targeted, although the fact that none of the four accounts contained donor information may limit the potential victims.
  • We don't know how the attackers got into the system, though these attacks are frequently perpetrated by phishing.

We don't know how it relates to the Democrats whose emails were stolen in 2016 and leaked on WikiLeaks with other documents leaked through the Guccifer 2.0 persona.

  • And we don't know if there was any connection to the Republicans whose emails were hacked in 2016 by the same actor and spread on the site DCLeaks.

But we do know that most cyber espionage isn't intended for leaks. Typically it's more mundane, gathering knowledge of political and economic developments to adjust negotiating tactics and other decisions.

Go deeper

Updated 6 hours ago - World

UK government: Kremlin has plan "to install pro-Russian leadership" in Ukraine

British Foreign Secretary Elizabeth Truss. Photo: Gints Ivuskans / AFP via Getty Images

The United Kingdom's Foreign Secretary on Saturday night said the government has "information that indicates the Russian Government is looking to install a pro-Russian leader in Kyiv as it considers whether to invade and occupy Ukraine."

Driving the news: U.S. National Security Council spokeswoman Emily Horne called the intelligence "deeply concerning" in a statement to Axios. The Biden administration has said Russia is actively manufacturing a pretext for invasion and warned that Putin could use joint military exercises in Belarus as cover to invade from the north.

Updated 7 hours ago - Science

This powerful new accelerator looks for keys to the center of atoms

Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

Nuclear physicists trying to piece together how atoms are built are about to get a powerful new tool.

Why it matters: When the Facility for Rare Isotope Beams begins experiments later this spring, physicists from around the world will use the particle accelerator to better understand the inner workings of atoms that make up all the matter that can be seen in the universe.

Updated 7 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Omicron dashboard

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

  1. Health: FDA OKs antiviral drug remdesivir for non-hospitalized COVID patients — Walensky: CDC language "pivoting" on "fully vaccinated" — Pfizer and Moderna boosters overwhelmingly prevent Omicron hospitalizations, CDC finds.
  2. Vaccines: The case for Operation Warp Speed 2.0 — Teens and adults missed 37 million vaccinations during COVID — Team USA 100% vaccinated against COVID ahead of Beijing Olympics — Kids' COVID vaccination rates are particularly low in rural America — Annual COVID vaccine preferable to boosters, says Pfizer CEO.
  3. Politics: Arizona governor sues Biden administration over COVID funds tied to mandates — Biden concedes U.S. should have done more testing — Arizona says it "will not be intimidated" by Biden on anti-mask school policies.
  4. World: American Airlines flight to London forced to turn around over mask dispute — WHO: COVID health emergency could end this year — Greece imposes vaccine mandate for people 60 and older — Austria approves COVID vaccine mandate for adults — Beijing officials urge COVID-19 "emergency mode" before Winter Olympics.
  5. Variant tracker