On Friday, January 6, 2017, the U.S. Intelligence Community released a declassified document pointing direct blame on the Russian Government for the Democratic National Committee (DNC) hack, as well as the motivation behind Moscow’s intentions and influence regarding the U.S. presidential election.
Outlined below are the facts you need to know and a link to the original Russia Hack Report released by the CIA, FBI and NSA.
- What was released?
- The Russian government was responsible for the DNC hack
- Orders direct from Putin
- Did not hack vote tallying
- Why Putin ordered the campaign
- Final thoughts and link to original Russia Hack Report
The U.S. Intelligence Community, composed of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), and the National Security Agency (NSA) has the mission of reducing the uncertainty surrounding foreign activities, capabilities and leaders’ intentions. While the document titled “Assessing Russian Activities and Intentions in Recent US Elections” still doesn’t release all of the information (and for good reason), it does help us draw definitive conclusions about the DNC hack.
The Russian Government was Responsible
We can conclude that the Russian government was responsible for the DNC hack.
“Russia’s intelligence services conducted cyber-operations against targets associated with the 2016 US presidential election, including targets associated with both major US political parties. We assess Russian intelligence services collected against the US primary campaigns, think tanks, and lobbying groups they viewed as likely to shape future US policies. In July 2015, Russian Intelligence gained access to DNC networks and maintained that access until at least June 2016. The General Staff Main Intelligence Directorate (GRU) is believed to have started their cyber operations against the US election by March 2016. GRU operations resulted in the compromise of the personal email accounts of Democratic Party officials and political figures. GRU had exfiltrated large volumes of data from the DNC.”
Orders direct from Putin
It’s definitive that Russia’s President, Vladimir Putin, directly ordered an influence campaign in 2016 aimed at the US presidential election. Putin’s goals for influencing the campaign were to:
- Undermine public faith in the US democratic process
- Denigrate Secretary Clinton
- Harm Secretary Clinton’s electability and potential presidency
- Develop clear preference for now President-elect Donald Trump
The influence campaign ordered by Putin followed a Russian messaging strategy that blends covert intelligence operations, such as cyber activity, with overt efforts by Russian Government agencies, state-funded media, third-party intermediaries, and paid social media users.
Did not hack vote tallying
While this may sound like the Russian’s were tampering directly with the election results, it’s extremely important to note that the types of systems Russian actors targeted or compromised were not involved in vote tallying. Simply put, we have heard a lot about how the election results in certain states may have been tampered with, however, we can conclude that the Russians had no hand in interfering with polling machines.
Why Putin ordered the campaign
So, why did Putin order the influence campaign and the DNC hack?
- Putin publicly pointed at the Panama Papers disclosure and the Olympic doping scandal as US-directed efforts to defame Russia, suggesting he sought to use disclosures to discredit the image of the US and cast it as hypocritical.
- Putin also wanted to discredit Secretary Clinton. He has publicly blamed Clinton for inciting mass protests against his regime in late 2011 and early 2012, and he holds a grudge for comments he saw as disparaging him.
Final Thoughts and Link to Original Russia Hack Report
For these reasons, Putin, his advisers, and the Russian Government developed a strong preference for President-elect Trump to win the election. It’s believed that Russia will apply lessons learned from this hacking campaign aimed at the US presidential election to future influence efforts worldwide, including against US allies and their election process.
Link to original Russia Hack Report