Report suggests Russia hackers breached voting software firm

by Dwayne Torres June 6, 2017, 5:36

According to a report at The Intercept, an internal document at the NSA shows that Russian military intelligence "executed a cyberattack on at least one US voting software supplier and sent spear-phishing emails to more than 100 local election officials just days before last November's presidential election". The document, dated May 5, offered new insight into the United States government's investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 election-namely that the hackers "focused on parts of the system directly connected to the voter registration process".

The Department of Justice has charged 25-year-old Reality L. victor with illegally removing top secret intelligence from a facility and sharing that intelligence with the news media, in relation to today's story from The Intercept on an NSA document involving the Russian election hacks.

While the charges do not name the publication, a US official with knowledge of the case said victor was charged with leaking the NSA report to The Intercept. The report, dated May 5, 2017, is the most detailed USA government account of Russian interference in the election that has yet come to light.

The NSA did not respond to request for comment from Business Insider, but the agency confirmed the document's authenticity to The Intercept.

The online news outlet said the NSA report depicted a hacking operation tied closely to Moscow's GRU intelligence directorate that targeted private USA companies providing voter registration services and equipment to local governments around the country.

As a federal contractor with Pluribus International, Winner had top-secret clearance and worked at an unnamed government facility in Georgia where an NSA facility is also located.

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"The actors likely used data obtained from that operation to ... launch a voter registration-themed spear-phishing campaign targeting United States local government organizations".

The woman, Reality Leigh Winner, 25, was arrested by the FBI at her home on Saturday and appeared in federal court on Monday, the DOJ said. The company did not respond to questions about the specific hack detailed in the NSA document. USA intelligence officials then asked The Intercept to redact certain sections. 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. The report is dated May 5, and one part says it was based on information that became available in April.

"She has no criminal history; it's not as if she's a threat to anyone, " he said.

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. According to Justice's press release, victor admitted to knowingly printing classified information and sending it to the media.

Rosenstein helped prosecute one of them, a case against James E. Cartwright, a retired four-star Marine general and a former vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff accused of disclosing classified information to reporters.

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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