Russian hackers targeted election officials just days before presidential vote

RUSSIAN MILITARY INTELLIGENCE executed a cyber attack on at least one USA voting software supplier and sent spear-phishing emails to more than 100 local election officials just days before last November's presidential election, according to a highly classified intelligence report obtained by The Intercept.

It was provided to the outlet by an anonymous source.

According to the report, which cites anonymously leaked NSA documents which were "independently authenticated" and remain top secret, provides a look into the internal investigation surrounding attacks on our voting process at the hands of Russian Federation. In January, the Director of National Intelligence attributed those leaks to a Russian influence campaign ordered directly by Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Operatives from the Russian General Staff Main Intelligence Directorate, or GRU, are said to have targeted employees at the United States election software company last August and then again in October.

The report notes that a "U.S. intelligence officer who declined to be identified cautioned against drawing too big a conclusion from the document because a single analysis is not necessarily definitive".

While the name of the company is unclear, the report refers to an undisclosed product made by VR Systems - electronic voting services and equipment vendor in Florida that has contract in eight states, including NY.

In late October, the group established an "operational" Gmail account and posed as an employee from VR Systems - using previously obtained documents to launch another spear-phishing attack "targeting U.S. local government organizations", the report says. Our of seven "potential victims", at least one of the employee accounts was "likely compromised", the NSA concluded. It has previously been reported that Russian Federation attempted to hack into voter registration systems, but this NSA document provides details of how one such operation occurred.

In late October, the hackers set up a Gmail account that appeared to be from an employee at VR Systems and launched a spear-phishing attack in the days following against local government organizations, The Intercept reports.

The report's summary also noted two other hacking operations in which another email address was created to "potentially used to offer election-related products and services, presumably to USA -based targets".

The NSA also found evidence of the GRU sending test emails (emails sent to determine the validity of a given address) to another electoral software vendor as well as the American Samoa Election Office.