Russian hackers attacked at least one US voting software supplier days before last year’s presidential election, according to a government intelligence report leaked on Monday that suggests election-related hacking penetrated further into US voting systems than previously known.
The classified National Security Agency (NSA) report, which was published online by the Intercept, does not say whether the hacking had any effect on election results.
However, it says Russian military intelligence attacked a US voting software company and sent spear-phishing e-mails to more than 100 local election officials at the end of October or beginning of November.
US intelligence agencies declined to comment.
However, the US Department of Justice announced it had charged a government contractor in Georgia with leaking a classified report containing “Top Secret level” information to an online news organization.
The report the contractor allegedly leaked is dated May 5, the same date as the document the Intercept posted online.
The document said Russian military intelligence “executed cyber espionage operations against a named US company in August 2016 evidently to obtain information on elections-related software and hardware solutions, according to information that became available in April 2017.”
The hackers are believed to have then used data from that operation to create a new e-mail account to launch a spear-phishing campaign targeting US local government organizations, the document said.
“Lastly, the actors send test e-mails to two non-existent accounts ostensibly associated with absentee balloting, presumably with the purpose of creating those accounts to mimic legitimate services.”
The document did not name any state.
“Russian intelligence obtained and maintained access to elements of multiple US state or local electoral boards,” the assessment said.
The US Department of Homeland Security “assesses that the types of systems Russian actors targeted or compromised were not involved in vote tallying.”
The Intercept contacted the NSA and the Office of the Director of National Intelligence about the document and both agencies asked that it not be published.
US intelligence officials then asked the Intercept to redact certain sections.
The Intercept said some material was withheld at US intelligence agencies’ request because it was not “clearly in the public interest.”
Reporters could not confirm the authenticity of the May 5 NSA document, which the Intercept said it obtained anonymously.
Also on Monday, Reality Leigh Winner, 25, of Augusta, Georgia, was charged in US District Court with copying classified documents and mailing them to a reporter with an unnamed news organization.
Prosecutors did not say which federal agency Winner worked for, but FBI agent Justin Garrick said in an affidavit filed with the court that she had previously served in the US Air Force and held a top-secret security clearance.
In affidavits filed with the court, Garrick said the government was notified of the leaked report by the news outlet that received it.
He said the agency that housed the report determined only six employees had made physical copies.
Winner was one of them.
Garrick said investigators found Winner had exchanged e-mails with the news outlet using her work computer.
Garrick’s affidavit said he interviewed Winner at her home on Saturday and she “admitted intentionally identifying and printing the classified intelligence reporting at issue” and mailing it to the news outlet.
Asked if Winner had confessed, Nichols said: “If there is a confession, the government has not shown it to me.”
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