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U.S. Officially Accuses Russia of Election Hacks

The U.S. government has officially accused Russia of being behind cyberattacks against American political organizations with the intent of interfering with the upcoming Presidential election in November.

“The U.S. Intelligence Community (USIC) is confident that the Russian Government directed the recent compromises of e-mails from US persons and institutions, including from US political organizations,” a joint statement from the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and Office of the Director of National Intelligence said.

“The recent disclosures of alleged hacked e-mails on sites like and WikiLeaks and by the Guccifer 2.0 online persona are consistent with the methods and motivations of Russian-directed efforts. These thefts and disclosures are intended to interfere with the US election process. Such activity is not new to Moscow—the Russians have used similar tactics and techniques across Europe and Eurasia, for example, to influence public opinion there,” the statement reads.

"We believe, based on the scope and sensitivity of these efforts, that only Russia's senior-most officials could have authorized these activities," the statement adds.

“Some states have also recently seen scanning and probing of their election-related systems, which in most cases originated from servers operated by a Russian company. However, we are not now in a position to attribute this activity to the Russian Government,” U.S. officials said.

The USIC and DHS say it would be “extremely difficult for someone, including a nation-state actor, to alter actual ballot counts or election results” by cyberattack or breach. 

Following the accusations, U.S. officals warned that it would act when it wants to protect national interests.

"We will take action to protect our interests, including in cyberspace, and we will do so at a time and place of our choosing," a senior administration official told AFP.

In response, Moscow called the allegations "rubbish."

The decentralized nature of the U.S election system and the number of protections state and local election officials have in place will help make a successful attack challenging, the U.S. says.

Early last month, Director of National Intelligence James Clapper said that Russia hacks U.S. computer networks "all the time”.

"The Russians hack our systems all the time, not just government but also corporate" and personal systems, Director of National Intelligence James Clapper said, though he did not directly say whether Moscow was behind the DNC hack at the time.

In August, researchers from two security firms uncovered evidence that they say linked a Russian threat actor to the cyberattack targeting the U.S. Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC).

The DCCC was the second Democratic Party committee targeted by hackers over the summer. The first was the Democratic National Committee (DNC) which, according to several security companies, was targeted by two different Russia-linked advanced persistent threat (APT) actors: Cozy Bear, also known as Cozy Duke and APT29; and Fancy Bear, also known as APT28, Pawn Storm, Sofacy, Tsar Team, Strontium and Sednit.

In July, SecureWorks reported that Fancy Bear had targeted thousands of Google accounts, including ones belonging to people working for or associated with the DNC and Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign.

Related: U.S. Vows Response to Russian Hack at 'Time and Place of our Choosing'

Related: Hacking of DNC Raises Fears of Cyber Attack on U.S. Election

Related: US Election - Official Probe Slams Clinton's Private Email Use 

Related: 55 Million Exposed After Hack of Philippine Election Site

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For more than 10 years, Mike Lennon has been closely monitoring the threat landscape and analyzing trends in the National Security and enterprise cybersecurity space. In his role at SecurityWeek, he oversees the editorial direction of the publication and is the Director of several leading security industry conferences around the world.