Published: Tue, June 06, 2017
Entertaiment | By Simon Arnold

Russian hackers breached U.S. voting software firm, top-secret report suggests

Russian intelligence agents launched a cyber-attack into a United States voting systems manufacturer weeks before the 2016 presidential election, according to a new report by the Intercept.

The Intercept's reporting reveals new details behind the conclusion of US intelligence agencies that Russian intelligence services were seeking to infiltrate state voter registration systems as part of a broader effort to interfere in the election, discredit Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton and help then Republican candidate Donald Trump win the election.

The New York Post reports that Reality Leigh Winner, a 25-year-old federal contractor at Pluribus International Corporation in Augusta, Georgia, was charged by the U.S. Justice Department on June 5 with "removing classified material from a government facility and mailing it to a news outlet", The Intercept, in early May.

The documents, which did not include any raw intelligence, revealed that the NSA believes Russian hackers breached at least one electronic-voting vendor based in Florida, while it maintained that it was unclear whether or not the cyberattacks had any effect on the election's outcome.

The dossier claims that on August 24, 2016, elements from the Russian General Staff Main Intelligence Directorate (GRU) began a spear-phishing attack against companies that supply USA election systems.

The Justice Department didn't mention the article in its news release, but NBC News cited a source in reporting that authorities believe victor provided the document in The Intercept story.

Until last week, victor was an independent contractor for the national security firm Pluribus International Corporation and had top secret security clearance at an unnamed US government facility in Georgia where she worked, according to the Justice Department's federal criminal complaint.

The document did not name any state. GRU "may have breached at least some elements of the voting system", particularly "elements of multiple USA state or local electoral boards".

The U.S. intelligence community has concluded that Russian Federation conducted a broad influence campaign for the goal of undermining Hillary Clinton's candidacy and sowing doubts about the democratic process if she had won.

"As we reported in the story, the NSA document was provided to us anonymously". In a statement, the Justice Department said that victor had admitted to removing classified intelligence from her workspace in Augusta, Georgia, the soon-to-be home of the US Army Cyber Command near Fort Gordon.

Winner's mother said that her daughter is "touch and go" in an interview with CNN on Monday.

A federal contractor in Georgia has been arrested and charged with leaking classified documents to a news outlet. "All this craziness has happened all of a sudden".

FBI special agent Justin Garrick told a federal court that victor - a cross-fit fan who graduated high school in 2011 and was in the US Air Force apparently as a linguist - confessed to reading and printing out the document, despite having no clearance to do so. The U.S. Government Agency determined that six individuals printed this reporting.

An internal audit revealed victor was one of six people who printed the document, but the only one who had email contact with the news outlet, according to the complaint. Garrick said investigators found victor had exchanged email with the news outlet using her work computer. During that conversation, victor admitted intentionally identifying and printing the classified intelligence reporting at issue despite not having a "need to know", and with knowledge that the intelligence reporting was classified.

Victor remains in jail pending a detention hearing later this week, said the lawyer, adding that he expects the government will seek to keep her behind bars pending trial.

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