A Russian cyber attack on the US electoral system affected almost 40 states during the 2016 election, sources have revealed.
The cyber attack – which targeted software used by poll workers on election day – hit 39 states, sources familiar with the US investigation into the matter told Bloomberg. That number, if accurate, represents a far larger attack than previously reported.
The Intercept recently published a top-secret National Security Agency document detailing an attempted launch of a Russian spear-phishing campaign on local governments in advance of the US election. The report suggested hackers had accessed at least one US voting software supplier.
According to Bloomberg, however, the hackers accessed dozens of voter databases and at least one campaign finance database.
The attack was so severe that it drove Obama administration officials to complain directly to the Russian government via a "red phone". The administration feared the hackers would delete voter rolls or otherwise tamper with the voting process in order to undermine confidence in the election.
"International law, including the law for armed conflict, applies to actions in cyberspace," the White House warned in one message to Moscow, NBC reported. "We will hold Russia to those standards."
The hacking efforts continued even after this warning.
The biggest names involved in the Trump-Russia investigation
The biggest names involved in the Trump-Russia investigation
1/11 Paul Manafort
Mr Manafort is a Republican strategist and former Trump campaign manager. He resigned from that post over questions about his extensive lobbying overseas, including in Ukraine where he represented pro-Russian interests.
2/11 Mike Flynn
Mr Flynn was named as Trump's national security adviser but was forced to resign from his post for inappropriate communication with Russian Ambassador to the US Sergey Kislyak. He had misrepresented a conversation he had with Mr Kislyak to Vice President Mike Pence, telling him wrongly that he had not discussed sanctions with the Russian.
3/11 Sergey Kislyak
Mr Kislyak, the Russian ambassador to the US, is at the centre of the web said to connect President Donald Trump's campaign with Russia.
4/11 Roger Stone
Mr Stone is a former Trump adviser who worked on the political campaigns of Richard Nixon, George HW Bush, and Ronald Reagan. Mr Stone claimed repeatedly in the final months of the campaign that he had backchannel communications with WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange and that he knew the group was going to dump damaging documents to the campaign of Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton - which did happen. Mr Stone also had contacts with the hacker Guccier 2.0 on Twitter, who claimed to have hacked the DNC and is linked to Russian intelligence services.
5/11 Jeff Sessions
The US attorney general was forced to recuse himself from the Trump-Russia investigation after it was learned that he had lied about meeting with Russian Ambassador to the US Sergey Kislyak.
6/11 Carter Page
Mr Page is a former advisor to the Trump campaign and has a background working as an investment banker at Merrill Lynch. Mr Page met with Russian Ambassador to the US Sergey Kislyak during the 2016 Republican National Convention in Cleveland. Mr Page had invested in oil companies connected to Russia and had admitted that US Russia sanctions had hurt his bottom line.
7/11 Jeffrey "JD" Gorden
Mr Gordon met with Russian Ambassador to the US Sergey Kislyak during the 2016 Republian National Convention to discuss how the US and Russia could work together to combat Islamist extremism should then-Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump win the election. The meeting came days before a massive leak of DNC emails that has been connected to Russia.
8/11 Jared Kushner
Mr Kushner is President Donald Trump's son-in-law and a key adviser to the White House. He met with a Russian banker appointed by Russian President Vladimir Putin in December. Mr Kushner has said he did so in his role as an adviser to Mr Trump while the bank says he did so as a private developer. Mr Kushner has also volunteered to testify in the Senate about his role helping to arrange meetings between Trump advisers and Russian Ambassador to the US Sergey Kislyak.
9/11 James Comey
Mr Comey was fired from his post as head of the FBI by President Donald Trump. The timing of Mr Comey's firing raised questions around whether or not the FBI's investigation into the Trump campaign may have played a role in the decision.
10/11 Preet Bharara
Mr Bahara refused, alongside 46 other US district attorney's across the country, to resign once President Donald Trump took office after previous assurances from Mr Trump that he would keep his job. Mr Bahara had been heading up several investigations including one into one of President Donald Trump's favorite cable television channels Fox News. Several investigations would lead back to that district, too, including those into Mr Trump's campaign ties to Russia, and Mr Trump's assertion that Trump Tower was wiretapped on orders from his predecessor.
11/11 Sally Yates
Ms Yates, a former Deputy Attorney General, was running the Justice Department while President Donald Trump's pick for attorney general awaited confirmation. Ms Yates was later fired by Mr Trump from her temporary post over her refusal to implement Mr Trump's first travel ban. She had also warned the White House about potential ties former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn to Russia after discovering those ties during the FBI's investigation into the Trump campaign's connections to Russia.
One former US intelligence official told Bloomberg it was unlikely the Russians had learned how to actually change votes across the country in the short time after the attack. But with three years until the next election, another warned, they will have ample time to practise.
Former FBI Director James Comey seemed to echo these sentiments in his Senate hearing last week.
“[This] it is a long-term practise of theirs,” the former intelligence official said of Moscow. “It's stepped up a notch in a significant way in '16. They'll be back.”
The Russian government has denied any meddling in the 2016 election.
The US investigation into the incident started in Illinois, where hackers accessed as many as 90,000 voter records. These records include names, dates of birth, genders, driver’s incenses and partial Social Security numbers, according to Ken Menzel, general counsel for the Illinois board of elections.
Investigators used this evidence to uncover successful hacking efforts in 38 other states.
A former Obama administration official acknowledged the scope of the hacking in a statement to Bloomberg.
“Last year, as we detected intrusions into websites managed by election officials around the country, the administration worked relentlessly to protect our election infrastructure,” said Eric Schultz, a spokesman for Mr Obama.
US intelligence agencies had previously reported that Russian hackers accessed “elements of multiple US state or local electoral boards”. The extent of this breach, however, was not revealed in the January report from the CIA, NSA and FBI.Reuse content