US gov’t officially accuses Russia of political hacks

The US intelligence community is “confident” that Russia is behind the recent hacks of US officials’ and organizations’ emails, the Department of Homeland Security and the Office of National Intelligence said.

According to the joint statement issued Friday, “disclosures of alleged hacked e-mails on sites like DCLeaks.com and WikiLeaks and by the Guccifer 2.0 online persona are consistent with the methods and motivations of Russian-directed efforts.”

“We believe, based on the scope and sensitivity of these efforts, that only Russia’s senior-most officials could have authorized these activities,” says the statement, posted by the Director of National Intelligence James Clapper.

The thefts and disclosures are “intended to interfere with the US election process,” the statement said, adding that “the Russians have used similar tactics and techniques across Europe and Eurasia” to influence public opinion.

External attempts to access election systems in several states“in most cases originated from servers operated by a Russian company,” the US officials said. “However, we are not now in a position to attribute this activity to the Russian Government.”

It would be “extremely difficult” for anyone to alter ballot counts or election results through cyberattacks, DHS and DNI said.

DHS has established an Election Infrastructure Cybersecurity Working Group “with experts across all levels of government”to raise awareness of cybersecurity risks, and urges state and local election officials to seek cybersecurity assistance from the federal authorities.

This is the first time the US government has officially accused Russia of cyberattacks related to the US presidential campaign. The Democratic National Committee blamed Russia for the hack of their email servers in June, though a lone hacker going by the name ‘Guccifer 2.0’ claimed responsibility and denied any ties to Russia.

The statement from Homeland Security and DNI comes just hours after Secretary of State John Kerry said that Russian actions in Syria “beg for an appropriate investigation of war crimes.” Moscow has dismissed Kerry’s words as “propaganda”intended to distract from US failure to implement the Syrian ceasefire agreement.

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