Woman Arrested for Leaking Report on Russian Election Hack
WASHINGTON (AP) — A federal contractor has been arrested following the leak of a classified intelligence report that suggests Russian hackers attacked at least one U.S. voting software supplier days before last year’s presidential election.
Shortly after the release of the report by The Intercept on Monday, the Justice Department announced it had charged government contractor, Reality Leigh Winner, in Georgia with leaking a classified report containing “Top Secret level” information to an online news organization. The report the contractor allegedly leaked is dated May 5, the same date as the document The Intercept posted online.
The report suggests election-related hacking penetrated further into U.S. voting systems than previously known. A Kremlin spokesman denied the report.
The classified National Security Agency report does not say whether the hacking had any effect on election results. But it says Russian military intelligence attacked a U.S. voting software company and sent spear-phishing emails to more than 100 local election officials at the end of October or beginning of November.
U.S. intelligence agencies declined to comment.
The document said Russian military intelligence “executed cyber espionage operations against a named U.S. company in August 2016 evidently to obtain information on elections-related software and hardware solutions, according to information that became available in April 2017.”
Dmitry Peskov, spokesman for President Vladimir Putin, denied the allegations Tuesday, saying that the Kremlin did not see “any evidence to prove this information is true.” He said Moscow categorically denies “the possibility” of the Russian government being behind it.
The hackers are believed to have then used data from that operation to create a new email account to launch a spear-phishing campaign targeting U.S. local government organizations, the document said. “Lastly, the actors send test emails to two non-existent accounts ostensibly associated with absentee balloting, presumably with the purpose of creating those accounts to mimic legitimate services.”
The document did not name any state.
The information in the leaked document seems to go further than the U.S. intelligence agencies’ January assessment of the hacking that occurred.
“Russian intelligence obtained and maintained access to elements of multiple U.S. state or local electoral boards,” the assessment said. The Department of Homeland Security “assesses that the types of systems Russian actors targeted or compromised were not involved in vote tallying.”