A highly classified intelligence report says that Russian military intelligence executed a cyber attack on an American software supplier, and sent out more than 100 spear-phishing emails to local election officials in the days before the 2016 presidential election, a report obtained by the Intercept says.
That intelligence was recently acquired by the National Security Agency before being leaked to the Intercept after months of investigation into Russia’s alleged efforts to manipulate the US election and American voting infrastructure.
The classified report shows that Russian hackers may have infiltrated further into the US voting systems than previously disclosed. It also shows that Russian government sources were explicitly involved, which contradicts statements by Russian President Vladimir Putin, who has said that any Russian involvement was by private citizens not at the state level.
The Russian General Staff Main Intelligence Directorate is named as having conducted the attack.
Hours after the Intercept’s report was published, a federal contractor in Georgia was arrested by the Justice Department for possessing and then leaking classified information to an “online news outlet”. Several independent news outlets then confirmed that the
Last week Mr Putin criticised allegations levelled against the Kremlin for meddling in the 2016 election as being based on assumptions and not on concrete evidence.
“It’s an attempt to solve internal political problems using foreign policy instruments,” he said. “It’s harmful, hurting international relations, the global economy, security and the fight against terror. It’s time to stop that useless and harmful chatter.”
The US government placed sanctions on Russia late last year after it concluded that Russia had at least attempted to tilt the scales in some way or another.
Mr Putin claims that it would be easy to fake a digital trail that leads back to the Kremlin, saying that it is rather easy to create misleading digital evidence.
“Where are the finger prints? IP addresses can be faked,” he said. “Do you know how many specialists there are who can make it look as if your children sent something from your home IP address? They can fake anything and then accuse anyone. It’s not evidence.”
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