US Directly Blames Moscow for DNC Hacks

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The US Department of Homeland Security (DHS) is urging state election authorities to take extra security precautions after directly blaming the Russian government for the first time for recent cyber attacks against the Democratic National Committee (DNC).

In a statement on Friday, the DHS and Office of the Director of National Intelligence on Election Security claimed that the hacking and exposure of private Democrat emails by ‘Guccifer 2.0’ was definitely state-sponsored, as only Russia's senior-most officials could have authorized these activities.”

It continued:

“These thefts and disclosures are intended to interfere with the US election process. 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.”

The US election system has also come under attack recently at a state level, but thus far the authorities aren’t in a position to directly blame the Kremlin, despite tracing these attacks back to Russian servers.

While it claimed that it would be “extremely difficult” for a third party to interfere with the presidential elections next month, it urged local authorities to contact the DHS for cybersecurity support.

The DHS has convened a special Election Infrastructure Cybersecurity Working Group to help out here.

“These services include cyber ‘hygiene’ scans of internet-facing systems, risk and vulnerability assessments, information sharing about cyber incidents, and best practices for securing voter registration databases and addressing potential cyber threats,” it added.

John Bambenek, threat systems manager of Fidelis Cybersecurity, argued that the options for Washington are limited in that criminal prosecution for such attacks is almost impossible and there’s no obvious diplomatic solution.

“Russia knows propaganda operations. Releases will be more damaging over time as we approach election day, but there is little evidence the process of conducting an election is at risk. So far, the action can be better termed as a propaganda operation designed to affect the American public and that has had some success,” he explained.

“To date, it’s never been challenged these leaks have been false information. However, they may introduce falsified information towards the end of the election where there exists little time to effectively challenge it.”

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