iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — U.S intelligence agencies for the first time Friday publicly accused the Russian government for recent hacking against U.S. political institutions, including the disclosures of e-mails on sites like DCLeaks.com and WikiLeaks.
The U.S. is “confident that the Russian Government directed the recent compromises of e-mails from US persons and institutions, including from US political organizations,” said the Department of Homeland Security and Director of National Intelligence in a joint statement.
“These thefts and disclosures are intended to interfere with the US election process,” said the statement.
The U.S. also said that in most cases the recent “scanning and probing” of election-related systems originated from servers operated by a Russian company. However, the U.S. said that it’s not in a position to attribute these attacks to the Russian government.
DHS and the DNI concluded that these hacks were “consistent” with the methods and motivations of Russian-directed efforts.
Russians have used similar tactics and techniques across Europe and Eurasia, for example, to influence public opinion there, according to DHS, the DNI and cyber security experts.
The U.S said today that it believes that “only Russia’s senior-most officials” could have authorized these activities, given the scope sensitivity of these efforts.
ABC News first reported last week that hackers tried to infiltrate voter registration systems in nearly half of the states across the country. In four states, foreign hackers were able to gain access to voter-related information in by targeting not only government systems, but also by breaking into computers associated with private contractors hired to handle voter information.
There had been back-and-forth within the government over whether to release such a statement because of concern it might escalate the situation, according to sources familiar with the deliberations.
Sources expect a Russian verbal response to being accused of trying to tamper with a U.S. presidential election.
This will likely become part the presidential debate itself. Democrats are likely to accuse Donald Trump of being too cozy with Putin and Trump supporters may wonder if the U.S. intelligence community is playing politics in their analysis.
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