Leaked NSA Report Claims Russian 'Cyber Espionage' Against US Elections

US intelligence services believe hackers acting on behalf of the Russian military intelligence "executed cyber espionage operations" against election systems days before the country went to the polls in November las year.

A leaked NSA document report says at least one company providing software for the electoral process was targeted. More than 100 local election officials were also targeted by spear-phishing emails, the document alleges.

The publication of the document has been followed by the FBI announcing it has charged 25-year-old NSA contractor Reality Leigh Winner in connection with removing 'classified' information from a government location and providing it to a news organisation.

Within the five-page leaked document, there is no suggestion that the US result was impacted by the hacking attempts but it is the most detailed report to surface from officials about Russian interference within the election process.

"Russian General Staff Main Intelligence Directorate actors executed cyber espionage operations against a named US company in August 2016, evidently to obtain information on elections-related software and hardware solutions,' the NSA report says. The security agency says it received this information in April 2017 and the report is dated May 5.

The report continues: "The actors likely used data obtained from that operation to create a new email account and launch a voter registration-themed spear-phishing campaign targeting US local government organisations". It is believed the government officials, who were involved in voter registration systems, were targeted following their names being taken from the hacked company.

"It is unknown whether the aforementioned spear-phishing deployment successfully compromised the intended victims, and what potential data could have been accessed by the cyber actor," a comment attached to the document says.

Within the spear-phishing campaign the Russian actors sent malware inside a Word document which, when opened, would run a script that would infect other machines. The NSA's document also says email addresses were created by the Russian actors that may have been used to "offer election-related products and services".

Recently Winner was arrested and charges were announced by the US Justice Department. Within a 6-page affidavit it is alleged that Winner, who worked for Pluribus International Corporation, printed the NSA document and then sent it to the news organisation. 

Winner was identified following the NSA tracing the document's movements. It "appeared to be folded and/or creased, suggesting they had been printed and hand-carried out of a secured space," the legal document says. The security agency then says it found six individuals had printed the report and a scan on those people's computers showed she had been in contact with the news outlet.

The FBI added that Winner admitted to printing and sharing the document. If convicted of a crime, she could face a 10-year prison sentence.

Publication of the document comes just days after Vladimir Putin insisted his country wasn't involved in hacking. "I'm deeply convinced that no hackers can radically influence another country's election campaign," Putin said. However, at the St Petersburg economic forum, he conceded it would be "theoretically possible" for people to hack election systems.

Wired

You Might Also Read:

Electoral Influence: 40yrs Of Kremlin Interference:

Russian Military Was Behind Hacking Clinton Campaign:

How Russian Cyber Power Attacked The US:

 

 

 

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