This gentleman has a tension headache because his country was brought down by a dumb, dumb, stupid dumb typo.
This gentleman has a tension headache because his country was brought down by a dumb, dumb, stupid dumb typo. file404/shutterstock.com

A New York Times report on the Russian cyber attacks meant to put Trump into power contains this devastating bit of information: A typo made by a Clinton IT staffer lead directly to hackers gaining access to a decade of Clinton campaign manager John Podesta's Gmail correspondence.

Take that in.

The Podesta emails with their wide-ranging implications for the Clinton campaign (everything from exposing Clinton's painfully-managed persona to precipitating the bizarre #SpiritCooking controversy) were caused by the lack of two little letters.

Now, these hackers did not mount a sophisticated operation, if that's what you're thinking. Nope. It was just your basic phishing scam. An email sent to Clinton staffers, among other targets, telling them to change their passwords immediately at a sketchy looking link. It's so head-bonkingly straightforward and stupid, it's unlikely our proverbially un-tech-savvy grandmas would fall for it.

Indeed, when Podesta received such an email on March 19 of this year, one of his aides did think it looked, uh, fishy, and sent it along to IT for inspection. But, alas:

Given how many emails Mr. Podesta received through this personal email account, several aides also had access to it, and one of them noticed the warning email, sending it to a computer technician to make sure it was legitimate before anyone clicked on the “change password” button.

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“This is a legitimate email,” Charles Delavan, a Clinton campaign aide, replied to another of Mr. Podesta’s aides, who had noticed the alert. “John needs to change his password immediately.”

With another click, a decade of emails that Mr. Podesta maintained in his Gmail account — a total of about 60,000 — were unlocked for the Russian hackers. Mr. Delavan, in an interview, said that his bad advice was a result of a typo: He knew this was a phishing attack, as the campaign was getting dozens of them. He said he had meant to type that it was an “illegitimate” email, an error that he said has plagued him ever since.

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