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Russia Demands Explanation for US Military Hacking Reports

Russia Cyber Tensions RaiseMoscow has asked Washington to provide clarifications on reports that the U.S. military has hacked into Russia’s critical infrastructure and its intention to leverage this access to retaliate in case of serious disruptions to the upcoming elections.

NBC News reported on Friday that it learned from a senior U.S. intelligence official and top-secret documents that United States military hackers have broken into Russia’s telecommunications networks, electric grid and Kremlin’s command systems. This will allegedly allow the U.S. to attack these critical systems if necessary.

In response to the report, Russia’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs has asked U.S. officials to provide clarifications.

“The lack of an official response from the American Administration would indicate the existence of state-sponsored cyber-terrorism in the United States, and in the case of enforcement threats, broadcast through American media, Moscow will have a full right to bring appropriate charges against Washington,” reads a translation of the statement published by Moscow over the weekend.

Following a series of cyberattacks attributed to Russia, including against the systems of the U.S. Democratic Party and voter registration databases, the United States officially accused Russia of being behind the attacks with the intent of interfering with the presidential election. Moreover, the U.S. has vowed to respond at a “time and place of our choosing.”

Russia has denied the accusations, calling them flattering, but false. However, the Kremlin slammed Washington for making threats.

"The threats directed against Moscow and our state's leadership are unprecedented because they are voiced at the level of the US vice president," said Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov. "To the backdrop of this aggressive, unpredictable line, we must take measures to protect (our) interests, to hedge risks."

Guccifer 2.0, the hacker who has taken credit for the Democratic Party cyberattacks, said he will be observing the elections in the United States and urged other hackers to “monitor the elections from inside the system.” Some security experts believe Guccifer 2.0 is a persona used by Russia to throw investigators off track.

Related: Clinton - 'Grave' Concern Russia Interfering in U.S. Elections

Related: Russia Hacks U.S. Networks 'All the Time', Says Spy Chief

Related: State Election System Hacking Linked to Previous Attacks

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Eduard Kovacs (@EduardKovacs) is a contributing editor at SecurityWeek. He worked as a high school IT teacher for two years before starting a career in journalism as Softpedia’s security news reporter. Eduard holds a bachelor’s degree in industrial informatics and a master’s degree in computer techniques applied in electrical engineering.