The news yesterday of the arrest of Reality Leigh Winner, the NSA contractor who leaked a top secret document to a news website called The Intercept, sort of overshadowed the news of what she actually leaked.
The news that was pushed to the background was that Russia had, in fact, targeted U.S. election software just before the 2016 election.
According to the top Democrat on the Senate Intelligence Committee, Senator Mark Warner (Va.), the activities of the Russians was likely more far reaching than what even that document revealed.
“I don’t believe they got into changing actual voting outcomes,” Virginia Sen. Mark Warner said in an interview. “But the extent of the attacks is much broader than has been reported so far.” He said he was pushing intelligence agencies to declassify the names of those states hit to help put electoral systems on notice before the midterm voting in 2018.
“None of these actions from the Russians stopped on Election Day,” he warned.
The attack first targeted at least one U.S. company that supplies voter software, then, more than 100 local election officials were targeted with a malware-laden email called a “spear-phishing” email. It was crafted to look like an email from the software company, and would affect the actual voter registration rolls.
Most of the states involved are now aware they were targeted, the senator said, though the number of states remain classified.
“Some folks say the states are victims, so they have to agree to release that information,” he said. “I really want to press the case. This is not an attempt to embarrass any state. This is a case to make sure that the American public writ large realizes that if we don’t get ahead of this, this same kind of intervention could take place in 2018 and definitely will take place in 2020.”
So while we’re not sure what states were likely targeted (*cough*NorthCarolina*cough*), there’s a wider fear of future elections suffering from the residual effects of this attempted hack, or maybe even see it happen again.
Warner went on to say that it was important that Reality Winner, the bungling contractor who revealed the information, be pursued to the full extent of the law.
This is where I point out that there was some confusion about the ongoing investigation into Russian involvement in the election, and this actually clears it up, or at least, should quiet some voices that are confused about the investigation.
The ongoing investigation, as it pertains to Trump’s campaign team, involves the possibility that Russia tried to influence the administration, through some team members. It also involves the possibility that Russia was behind the leaks of Democrat National Committee emails to WikiLeaks, with the goal being to disrupt and influence the election.
That’s different than hacking (although those emails surely were obtained through hacking).
What this new revelation reveals is that, yes, Russia tried to hack the election, as well.
So, influence or hack. They tried both.