Many of the recent high-profile cyberattacks directed at US government organizations have been blamed on Russia, but American agencies have reframed from publicly pointing the finger at the country – until now.
A joint statement from the Department of Homeland Security and Office of the Director of National Intelligence formally accuses the Russian government of being behind several hacks and subsequent leaks.
The US Intelligence Community (USIC) says the Democratic National Committee and the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee email leaks were Russia’s way of influencing November’s US general election.
“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. We believe, based on the scope and sensitivity of these efforts, that only Russia’s senior-most officials could have authorized these activities,” reads the statement.
Also mentioned are the DCLeaks and WikiLeaks websites, where many of the stolen emails appeared. Romanian hacker persona Guccifer 2.0, who took credit for the DNC attack, is also referenced.
The USIC notes that while the recent scans and probing of state election systems originated from servers operated by a Russian company, the activity has not been attributed to the country's government.
As there are numerous protections in place and the voting machines aren’t connected to the internet, it would be extremely difficult for anyone, even nation-state actors, to hacking the systems and alter the ballot counts or election results, said the USIC.
"This assessment is based on the decentralized nature of our election system in this country and the number of protections state and local election officials have in place."
What actions, if any, the US will take against Russia is unclear.