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On Friday. the U.S. Department of Justice announced indictments against Russian nationals, accusing them of interfering in the 2016 Presidential election – including specific attempts to penetrate state and local election systems. FCW has more:
Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein announced a bombshell set of indictments on July 13, pinning the blame on Russian intelligence operatives for a series of hacks …
The indictments obtained by Special Counsel Robert Mueller charge 12 Russian nationals of working on behalf of the Main Intelligence Directorate (known by its Russian-language acronym GRU), Russia’s premier military intelligence agency, to carry out a multi-faceted cyber attack with the intent of influencing the 2016 election. The individuals are charged with two separate violations of the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act, aggravated identity theft and money laundering, with the accused using bitcoin to pay for services in an attempt to mask their involvement.
“The internet allows foreign adversaries to attack America in new and unexpected ways,” said Rosenstein in a press conference announcing the charges. “Free and fair elections are always hard fought and contentious. There will always be adversaries who seek to exacerbate our divisions and try to confuse, divide and conquer us.”
The indicted individuals also are charged with targeting state and local election officials, voter registration databases as well as voting-machine software companies. According to the charging document, one such attempt yielded voter information on approximately 500,000 Americans, including names, addresses, partial social security numbers, dates of birth and driver’s license numbers. Another attempt resulted in the successful penetration of computers owned by an unnamed U.S. vendor that supplies software used to verify voter registration information the 2016 elections.
Here are the specific allegations regarding state and local election interference from the indictments:
These attacks – including a number of stolen records from a state elections file (widely believed to be Illinois’) that is greater than previously thought – highlight the degree to which Russian intelligence operatives were looking for ways to interfere in the 2016 election. While the existence of such outside threats are no longer news, the depth and breadth of the attacks in 2016 add clarity to the nature of the threat. Needless to say, these indictments were a major topic of discussion at this weekend’s meeting of state election officials in Philadelphia – and will add even more urgency to the work to make the nation’s election systems more resilient.
Buckle up – and stay tuned …