Published: Tue, June 06, 2017
Culture | By Henry Herrera

Report suggests Russia hackers breached voting software firm

Report suggests Russia hackers breached voting software firm

A 25-year-old contractor has been charged with leaking NSA files that claim Russian intelligence hacked at least one maker of voting software used in 2016's United States elections.

The NSA document offers the clearest indication yet that Russian hackers sought to penetrate U.S. voting systems tied to voter registration in the days and weeks leading up to the election.

The Intercept did not say how they acquired the document, but shortly after its report appeared, the Department of Justice announced the arrest of Reality Leigh Winner, an employee of a national security contractor, for leaking top secret information to "an online news outlet".

In October 2016, CNN reported that federal investigators believe Russian hackers were behind cyberattacks on a contractor for Florida's election system that may have exposed the personal data of Florida voters, according to United States officials briefed on the probe.

The NSA report, dated May 5, says Russian military intelligence attacked a USA voting software company and sent spear-phishing emails to more than 100 local election officials at the end of October or beginning of November.

NBC News is reporting that the document victor is alleged to have leaked was published by The Intercept on Monday. The document also undermines Russian President Vladimir Putin's recent assertion that allegations his government interfered in the US political process are a "fiction".

As a federal contractor with Pluribus International, Winner had top-secret clearance and worked at an unnamed government facility in Georgia where an NSA facility is also located. "Authorities zeroed in on victor because she was the only one who had been in email contact with the news organization, according to the affidavit". The company did not respond to questions about the specific hack detailed in the NSA document. For example, former NSA contractor Edward Snowden in 2013 disclosed secret documents to journalists, including The Intercept's Greenwald, that revealed broad USA surveillance programs.

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The Justice Department says victor admitted to leaking the documents when the Federal Bureau of Investigation searched her home on Saturday.

While neither the information or the outlet were identified, the information was also described as a report dated May 5.

Winner's mother said that her daughter is "touch and go" in an interview with CNN on Monday.

Garrick's affidavit said he interviewed victor at her home Saturday and she "admitted intentionally identifying and printing the classified intelligence reporting at issue" and mailing it to the news outlet.

The federal agency victor worked for first became aware of Winner's alleged leak after being contacted by the news outlet for comment.

Asked if victor had confessed, Nichols said, "If there is a confession, the government has not shown it to me".

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