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Classified documents recently acquired by the US National Security Agency (NSA) show that the Russian government attempted to hack US voting infrastructure and software just days before the November election, a report by The Intercept reveals.
The documents, allegedly leaked by federal contractor Reality Winner, detail how Russian military intelligence embarked on a spear-phishing campaign to acquire information from an unnamed voting software company. In one instance, the hackers disguised themselves as Google and attempted to get login credentials. In another, they posed as e-voting vendors and sent MS Word documents that hid malicious code.
Just days ago, Russian President Vladimir Putin denied the government’s engagement in any state-level hacking, but did admit that “patriotic” freelance hackers may have worked independently. The leaked documents definitively implicate the Kremlin in the attacks.
Seven separate employees at the software company were targeted, but it is believed only one of the malicious emails hit its mark. There is no evidence of the hackers gaining access to voting results.
Russian military intelligence embarked on a spear-phishing campaign to acquire information from an unnamed voting software company, leaks suggest
The FBI has arrested Reality Winner in relation to the leaked documents. It is said the Bureau was able to identify her as the source by noticing crease lines in the scanned documents. The lines proved they were first printed, and they narrowed it down to Winner when linking those who had printed with those who had emailed The Intercept.
Julian Assange has called for support for Winner.
Alleged NSA whistleblower Reality Leigh Winner must be supported. She is a young women accused of courage in trying to help us know. pic.twitter.com/B4aIdt7qz6
— Julian Assange (@JulianAssange) June 6, 2017
These leaks come five months after the Obama administration released an assessment that the Kremlin ordered a propaganda effort to undermine the US democratic process, as well as Presidential Candidate Hillary Clinton’s electability. The FBI are still investigating the precise role it played.
It is also investigating US President Donald Trump’s relationship with Russia, as well as his son-in-law and senior advisor Jared Kushner’s secret request for a back channel straight to the Kremlin. Former FBI Director James Comey is set to testify his findings on Thursday.