Just a few days before the 2016 presidential election, Russian military intelligence hackers targeted a Florida voting software company and more than 100 local election officials, according to a highly classified National Security Agency report obtained by The Intercept and verified by CBS News.
The Justice Department announced charges Monday against a federal contractor with Top Secret security clearance after she allegedly leaked classified information to an online media outlet.
One of the four authors who wrote The Intercept's story about the NSA report tweeted that nothing in the report indicated that "the actual voting machines or vote tabulations were compromised" in November's election.
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 United States election systems.
Winner's attorney, Titus Thomas Nichols, declined to confirm whether she is accused of leaking the NSA report received by The Intercept.More news: Palestinian hunger strike ends as Israel yields to prison demands
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They had been given a "cyber espionage mandate specifically directed at US and foreign elections", the report says.
The US Justice Department said on Monday (5 June) that victor was a contractor with Pluribus International Corporation and was assigned to a US government agency facility in Georgia.
In late October, the group established an "operational" Gmail account and posed as an employee from VR Systems - using previously obtained documents to launch another spear-phishing attack "targeting U.S. local government organizations", the report says. "Authorities zeroed in on victor because she was the only one who had been in email contact with the news organization, according to the affidavit". The NSA document does not directly identify the company in question, but contains references to the VR Systems, whose electronic voter database products are used in eight states. For example, former NSA contractor Edward Snowden in 2013 disclosed secret documents to journalists, including The Intercept's Greenwald, that revealed broad US surveillance programs. The intelligence report, citing unspecified information the NSA obtained in April, suggests the government is now satisfied that Moscow was the culprit. "She is a very good person". Victor further admitted to mailing the material to a news outlet, which the DOJ did not identify.
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. He said the agency that housed the report determined only six employees had made physical copies.
Asked if victor had confessed, Nichols said, "If there is a confession, the government has not shown it to me". A further audit of the six individuals' desk computers revealed that victor had e-mail contact with the News Outlet.