US Office of the Director of National Intelligence releases unclassified version of intel community’s findings on Russia’s attempts to influence US presidential race via cyberattacks, leaks, and pure propaganda.
Russian president Vladimir Putin “ordered” a wide-ranging effort to disrupt and influence the outcome of the 2016 US presidential campaign in favor of President-Elect Donald Trump, according to an unclassified report published today by the US Office of the Director of National Intelligence.
The operation included cyber espionage attacks against policy groups, US primary campaigns, and the Democratic National Committee (DNC) in 2015, as well as propaganda and online “troll” activity that included fake news meant to influence public opinion. The ODNI report said that the Russian General Staff Main Intelligence Directorate, aka the GRU, appears to have joined the activity around March of 2016. “We assess that the GRU operations resulted in the compromise of the personal e-mail accounts of Democratic Party officials and political figures. By May, the GRU had exfiltrated large volumes of data from the DNC,” the report said.
And the infamous “Guccifer 2.0” persona who then provided the stolen information to WikiLeaks, was actually a persona used by the GRU, the report said.
“We assess Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered an influence campaign in 2016 aimed at the US presidential election. Russia’s goals were to undermine public faith in the US democratic process, denigrate Secretary Clinton, and harm her electability and potential presidency. We further assess Putin and the Russian Government developed a clear preference for President-elect Trump. We have high confidence in these judgments,” the report said.
“We also assess Putin and the Russian Government aspired to help President-elect Trump’s election chances when possible by discrediting Secretary Clinton and publicly contrasting her unfavorably to him. All three agencies agree with this judgment. CIA and FBI have high confidence in this judgment; NSA has moderate confidence.”
The report also confirmed that Russian intelligence acquired intel on multiple US state and local electoral boards. “Since early 2014, Russian intelligence has researched US electoral processes and related technology and equipment. DHS assesses that the types of systems we observed Russian actors targeting or compromising are not involved in vote tallying,” according to the report.
Intel officials said in the report that the Russian GRU also was behind the cyberattack and leak of data on US athletes from the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) database. The unclassified ODNI report, “Background to ‘Assessing Russian Activities and Intentions in Recent US Elections’: The Analytic Process and Cyber Incident Attribution.
Kelly Jackson Higgins is Executive Editor at DarkReading.com and a Guest Blogger on NexxyTech.com. She is an award-winning veteran technology and business journalist with more than two decades of experience in reporting and editing for various publications, including Network Computing, Secure Enterprise.