Russia attempted to hack U.S. voting software days before election: NSA document

A newly published National Security Agency report shows that Russian hacking went further than previously known

By Matthew Rozsa

Staff Writer

Published June 5, 2017 5:41PM (EDT)

Hillary Clinton; Vladimir Putin; Donald Trump   (AP/Andrew Harnik/Richard Shiro/Reuters/Ivan Sekretarev/Salon)
Hillary Clinton; Vladimir Putin; Donald Trump (AP/Andrew Harnik/Richard Shiro/Reuters/Ivan Sekretarev/Salon)

A newly leaked National Security Agency document describes how Russia launched a major hacking effort shortly before the 2016 presidential election.

The document, according to a report by The Intercept, is a "highly classified intelligence report" that the site has "independently authenticated." CBS News also confirmed the report.

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The NSA's report, which is dated May 5, discusses how "Russian military intelligence executed a cyber attack on at least one U.S. voting software supplier and sent spear-phishing emails to more than 100 local election officials just days before last November’s presidential election."

The Intercept notes that the document does not contain "the underlying 'raw' intelligence on which the analysis is based" and warns readers that a single analysis, without substantiating evidence, does not in itself prove anything.

The Office of the Director of National Intelligence has also declined to comment on the document.

Nevertheless, one paragraph from the report being covered by The Intercept would be particularly damning toward the Russian government if it turned out to be true:

Russian General Staff Main Intelligence Directorate actors … executed cyber espionage operations against a named U.S. company in August 2016, evidently to obtain information on elections-related software and hardware solutions. … The actors likely used data obtained from that operation to … launch a voter registration-themed spear-phishing campaign targeting U.S. local government organizations.

When recently confronted by journalist Megyn Kelly over the allegations of Russian election tampering, Russian President Vladimir Putin described the accusations as "disinformation," argued the intelligence agencies which blamed Russia had been "misled," and added that "I haven’t seen, even once, any direct proof of Russian interference in the presidential election in the United States."

By Matthew Rozsa

Matthew Rozsa is a staff writer at Salon. He received a Master's Degree in History from Rutgers-Newark in 2012 and was awarded a science journalism fellowship from the Metcalf Institute in 2022.

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