There seems to be no end to this story – ever since the U.S. Democratic Party lost the presidential election in November 2016, speculations about outside interference have been rampant. Forget the fact that USA have been accused of doing the very same thing in other countries and even admitted to it themselves – when the cheater himself gets cheated, his feeling are hurt nevertheless. So the loss of the Democrats has been attributed to Russian hackers and the investigation is still ongoing. New facts have now become public – if the Intercept are to be believed, Russian intelligence agents hacked a US voting systems manufacturer several weeks before the election.
Intercept says that it’s gotten this information from the highly classified report made by National Security Agency (NSA), and this news has coincided with the arrest of Reality Leigh Winner, who is a 25-year-old federal contractor from Augusta, Georgia. She was charged with removing classified material from a government facility and mailing it to a news outlet. And while there’s no shortage of the information concerning the hacking of the email accounts of Democratic Party members, it was believed that the vote-counting itself wasn’t affected in any way – until now.
According to the aforementioned report, Russian military intelligence has put at least one U.S. voting software supplier under a cyber-attack and also sent spear-phishing emails to more than a hundred local election officials several days before the poll itself. Intercept says that this report was given to it anonymously and was also independently authenticated. It’s dated May 5, 2017 and is said to contain the greatest amount information on the supposed Russian meddling.
Reality Leigh Winner was arrested at her home on June 3 by the FBI and was brought to Augusta’s federal court on June 5. It should be added that she is a contractor with with Pluribus International Corporation which is assigned to a Us government agency facility in Georgia. She worked there since February 13 and possessed access to a top-secret information. It’s also known that she was previously a linguist and can speak Pashto, Dari, and Farsi. And her mother seems to be at shock at the news, as she never thought that her daughter would want to do something like this.
Going back to the report, however, it says that Russian intelligence have been involved in cyber espionage in August of 2016 to get the data on software and hardware related to the elections. Russian president Vladimir Putin denied any and all accusations connected with the USA elections, but, interestingly enough, have recently changed his tone and said that it’s entirely possible that Russian hackers could’ve been involved, although still denying any involvement from the government side. It should also be noted that the report points out the uncertainty of hacking attacks having any influence on the election results. Still, it gives more ground to the theory of the outside interference and this story is sure to continue and develop, especially considering the fact that James Comey, an FBI director relieved of his duties by Donald Trump, is going to testify before the Senate intelligence committee on June 8.
There’re a lot more questions than answers at the moment and the relations between Russia and USA are going to remain tense. Both nations seem to be determined to outdo each other in political games and only time will show what methods they will resort to going forward.