So far, most of the attention over Hillary Clinton's use of a private email account has focused on transparency concerns. But as I argued last week, the more serious concern is about security. By building her own homebrew email setup, Clinton may have made it easier for foreign intelligence agencies to keep tabs on her actions as secretary of state.
She was asked about this concern at today's press conference, and her answer was not reassuring.
"The system we used was set up for President Clinton's office," she said, adding that it "had numerous safeguards."
Clinton said the server was "on property guarded by the Secret Service and there were no security breaches."
She didn't elaborate on those "numerous safeguards."
The reality is that if there were a security breach, there's no reason to think she would know about it. If a foreign intelligence agency had managed to hack into her server, they wouldn't have told anyone. Instead, they would have silently collected copies of her communications and sent them back home for analysis.
To be clear, there's no proof this actually happened. But there's ample reason to believe foreign intelligence agencies would have been trying to gain access, and that using a homebrew email system made Clinton more vulnerable.
And the fact that she would flatly state there were "no security breaches" — something she can't possibly know — suggests she either doesn't understand the challenges of keeping an email server secure or hasn't been taking the threat seriously.
Update: Clinton's office has put out a statement on the email controversy, but it don't provide much more detail on the steps she took to secure the system:
The security and integrity of her family’s electronic communications was taken seriously from the onset when it was first set up for President Clinton’s team. While the curiosity in the specifics of this set up is understandable, given what people with ill-intentions can do with such information in this day and age, there are concerns about broadcasting specific technical details about past and current practices. However, suffice it to say, robust protections were put in place and additional upgrades and techniques employed over time as they became available, including consulting and employing third party experts.
Correction: I originally described the conference as a White House press conference, but of course Clinton is no longer in the Obama administration.