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Senior Staff Writer

U.S. officially names Russia as source of election hacks, but says they can’t attribute it

Oct 07, 20163 mins
CybercrimeData BreachElection Hacking

Statement from ODNI says DCLeaks & Guccifer 2.0 are Russian-directed efforts

Election 2016 teaser - Lack of trust in a broken election or divided vote
Credit: Thinkstock


First, a quick point about the ODNI statement released today. By pushing it out late on a Friday afternoon – or rather, tossing it out in the hopes it will be buried like garbage – it feels as if the ODNI wanted to lower the impact such accusations would have.

The other point is that the statement starts by blaming the Russian government for directing the recent political hacking incidents and hints they’re behind Guccifer 2.0 and DCLeaks, but then immediately says they’re “not now in a position to attribute this activity to the Russian Government.”

It’s possible the ODNI are only blaming Russia for the confirmed hacks in Arizona and Illinois, and suggesting Guccifer 2.0 and DCLeaks are part of their plans, but when it comes to the random scanning of voter registration systems, they can’t prove Russia is behind that.  – Steve

Full story:

On Friday, as most of the public was heading home for the weekend, and people in Florida were attempting to shelter from a hurricane, the Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI) released a statement officially blaming Russia for the recent string of political hacks – mostly targeting the Democrats.

“The U.S. Intelligence Community (USIC) is confident that the Russian Government directed the recent compromises of e-mails from US persons and institutions, including from US political organizations. The recent disclosures of alleged hacked e-mails on sites like and WikiLeaks and by the Guccifer 2.0 online persona are consistent with the methods and motivations of Russian-directed efforts. These thefts and disclosures are intended to interfere with the US election process,” the ODNI statement says.

The statement goes on to state what everyone else following the incidents and blaming Russia has said – everything that’s happened this year isn’t something new. The hacking, the coordinated leaks, etc. are known Russian tactics and they’ve been used before in parts of Europe and Eurasia in an attempt to influence public opinion.

The fact the ODNI named DCLeaks and Guccifer 2.0 directly is also telling, as security experts called them out as possible Russian campaigns from the beginning – something Guccifer 2.0 denied earlier this year. Yet, the most recent Guccifer 2.0 links were proven false after examination of the leaked document’s metadata, leaving future releases by the hacker surrounded by doubt.

Earlier this week, IDG launched a series of articles dedicated to hacking an election. The key focus of coverage for CSO Online was that hacking an election isn’t about the technical side of things, such as voting machines, it’s about influence and disruption.

“Some states have also recently seen scanning and probing of their election-related systems, which in most cases originated from servers operated by a Russian company. However, we are not now in a position to attribute this activity to the Russian Government. The USIC and the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) assess that it would be extremely difficult for someone, including a nation-state actor, to alter actual ballot counts or election results by cyber attack or intrusion,” the ODNI statement adds.

“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. States ensure that voting machines are not connected to the Internet, and there are numerous checks and balances as well as extensive oversight at multiple levels built into our election process.”

A full copy of the ODNI statement is available here.

Story was updated for clairfication on 10/7 at 4:56pm EDT.