United States intel concerned about Election Day hackers
- Author: Darren Santiago Nov 05, 2016,
Nov 05, 2016, 5:49
US intelligence agencies do not see Russian Federation as capable of using cyberespionage to alter the outcome of Tuesday's presidential election, but they have warned that Moscow may continue meddling after the voting has ended to sow doubts about the legitimacy of the result, USA officials said. But they have yet to see those systems tampered with.
The Post's sources say officials fear there could be Russian interference on Election Day itself, and the Department of Homeland Security has already detected what appear to be Russian efforts to scan voter databases.
"The Russians are in an offensive mode and [the U.S.is] working on strategies to respond to that, and at the highest levels", Michael McFaul, a former US ambassador to Russia, told NBC News on Friday.
The hacked emails were provided to WikiLeaks via a hacker who goes by the name "Guccifer 2.0" and is deemed Russian by American intelligence agencies.
Intelligence officials say Russian Federation has been warned that any attempt to affect the voting or vote counting next Tuesday would be considered a serious breach.
According to one official, the USA hackers have left specially designed malware on Russian networks to take them down when needed. "So this is to make sure that we have all the tools at our disposal and that we're prepared to respond to whatever it is that they do".
"We need to be prepared on every front, not just technical but messaging, and so on", the official continued.
The NBC News report said that the massive internet disruption on October 21 that took down websites like Amazon and PayPal for hours could have been a drill for those hackers.
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Some intelligence officials think the massive internet outage two weeks ago could have been a potential dry run for Russian Federation - with the "distributed denial of service" attack showing "all the signs of what would be considered a drill", said Ann Barron-DiCamillo, former director of the Homeland Security computer emergency readiness team.
This has been an ongoing issue, including what the USA says is Russian state-sponsored hacking of the Democratic National Committee and other Democratic Party officials and organizations, as well as the release of documents hacked from a top Clinton campaign official and released via WikiLeaks in a manner consistent with Russian-sponsored operations.
U.S. officials have said that given the nature of decentralization of elections, it would be extremely hard for a nation or a non-state actor to alter ballot counts.
A current Obama administration national security official said that a White House working group has been watching Russia's apparent intervention in other foreign elections with growing concern.
The administration's decision could depend on what the Russians do in the coming days.
James Lewis, a cyber expert at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, says that USA hacks into the computer infrastructure of adversary nations such as China, Russia, Iran and North Korea, something he says he presumes has gone on for years, is akin to the kind of military scouting that is as old as human conflict.
As NBC News reported Thursday, the us government is marshaling resources to combat the threat in a way that is without precedent for a presidential election.