The Intercept has published leaked NSA report on Russian hacking of US election

Written By: - Date published: 10:10 am, June 6th, 2017 - 28 comments
Categories: International, us politics - Tags: , , , , ,

A scoop from The Intercept:

Top-Secret NSA Report Details Russian Hacking Effort Days Before 2016 Election
Matthew Cole, Richard Esposito, Sam Biddle, Ryan Grim

Russian military intelligence executed a cyberattack on at least one U.S. 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.

The top-secret National Security Agency document, which was provided anonymously to The Intercept and independently authenticated, analyzes intelligence very recently acquired by the agency about a months-long Russian intelligence cyber effort against elements of the U.S. election and voting infrastructure. The report, dated May 5, 2017, is the most detailed U.S. government account of Russian interference in the election that has yet come to light.

While the document provides a rare window into the NSA’s understanding of the mechanics of Russian hacking, it does not show the underlying “raw” intelligence on which the analysis is based. 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. ….

See the full piece at The Intercept.

28 comments on “The Intercept has published leaked NSA report on Russian hacking of US election”

  1. I liked Russell Brown’s dig at Glen Greenwald.

    Time to watch red dawn 1 again…

  2. Bill 2

    I’m kind of surprised that “The Intercept” ran this.

    I think it was already very well established and accepted that various phishing attacks had taken place and whatever. The problem was that claims were made about it being the Russian Government but no evidence was produced that would underpin that claim.

    And there still isn’t any evidence being made available that would underpin that claim.

    As far as I can see this is a simple exercise of “rinse and repeat”.

    As ‘The Intercept’ fully acknowledges –

    While the document provides a rare window into the NSA’s understanding of the mechanics of Russian hacking, it does not show the underlying “raw” intelligence on which the analysis is based.

    • dukeofurl 2.1

      Yep.
      They are always going to find it was the ‘Russians, or Chinese, or North Koreans’ As of course , the US or its allies including Israel never does these sort of things.
      Interfering in other countries elections ? The CIA must have a whole division for that sort of operation since they were formed.

    • Draco T Bastard 2.2

      Yep, anyone can write an analysis but you need the raw data to be able to back it up and we don’t have that.

      • McFlock 2.2.1

        but then if the raw data had been leaked, russophiles would be saying it had been faked.

        It is interesting that they seem to be saying the same thing in private that the msm has been saying for months, though. It’s not like they leaked a report saying that it was the DNC or a Nigerian 419 scam behind the hack, lol

        • Draco T Bastard 2.2.1.1

          but then if the raw data had been leaked, russophiles would be saying it had been faked.

          That is a possibility. That said, it’s still up to the people providing the analysis to also provide some sort of proof. Saying ‘trust us’ isn’t a viable position.

          It is interesting that they seem to be saying the same thing in private that the msm has been saying for months, though.

          I thought that they’d simply been repeating what they’d been told by sources. This is certainly corroboration of that.

          BTW, I’ve always thought that if it had happened then it probably was Russian hackers but that it was more likely to be private hackers on someone else’s payroll rather than the actual Russian Intelligence community. This leak, of course, moves that probability consideration the other way.

          • McFlock 2.2.1.1.1

            well, if you want to keep using a source, you don’t tell everyone who/what it is (as the source for this leak is finding out). So to a certain degree it has to be based on at least some level of trust.

            as for the MSM, I figured they’d been repeating information from undisclosed sources, but that opened them to two criticisms: 1) that they were possibly making up their sources, and 2) that their sources were lying. This corroborates the MSM for 1) and suggests that at least at a low internal level 2) was highly unlikely.

    • Liberal Realist 2.3

      I’m kind of surprised that “The Intercept” ran this.

      Indeed, as am I. Perhaps Greenwald has been brought to heel by the powers that be? Albeit, along with the noted acknowledgement …

      As far as I’m concerned the whole ‘Russia did it’ narrative is fake news until such time as verifiable concrete evidence is produced. As you mention, there is zero evidence in the leaked document that proves ‘Russia did do it’.

    • One Anonymous Bloke 2.4

      One of the rebuttals to your argument is that a source has put themselves at considerable personal risk to get this information/jigsaw piece into the public domain.

      The Intercept exists to report it: that’s what they do, and yes, that includes verification and caveats out the wazoo.

  3. adam 3

    Let me remind you the standard had one hacking attempt in recent times (sorry to remind you lprent) and in reality gets all sorts of phishing and other attacks on a daily basis.

    This is like reporting all my plants are fine now they are in the glasshouse for the winter. Like many gardeners I’m wintering over my babies is a safe environment. Factually true, but does not tell you anything.

    Sheesh that piece was the weak, and yeah OK maybe an insight to the NSA, so now we know the NSA do a lot of wild speculation, off the back of what is pretty day to day stuff.

    Is it just me, or are the warnings from Dwight D Eisenhower starting to look more and more stark.

    • lprent 3.1

      We get attempts on the site all of the time. What has been interesting is that in the last few weeks our main source has shifted. It is now coming out of TOR endpoints in NZ.

      I’m musing on what I’m likely to do about that.

      • infused 3.1.1

        Not much unless you block the tor endpoints. Which you should probably do. Very few legit reasons to use tor imo… and it gets you on lists pretty quickly. so I’ve heard.

        • lprent 3.1.1.1

          That was what I was considering.

          I haven’t bothered about them in the past simply because they weren’t being used to target this site. They’re commonly on the email server’s blacklists. But it hasn’t been common as a means to target wordpress sites.

          Most of the junk from them is either login attempts or attempted comments with phishing links or sites with dubious payloads. But that and the attempted site stripping gets dealt with pretty well with the various layers of killer toolkit anyway.

          Those few that get through that usually get caught by the basic traps at the site interface.

          One of the best things that I ever did on this site was getting rid of a need for logins. The other was rigidly making all new handle/email combinations pass the eyeballs of a moderator for their first comment.

          Looks easy enough to get the dynamic lists of TOR endpoints (there are a number of sources). Simply blocking them dynamically is simple. So would putting them in a time wasting trap.

          But it is probably just another kiddie script fad from some harvesting toolkit. So I’ll keep an eye on it to see if it dissipates like some of the others.

    • Mike Smith 3.2

      It’s not just you

  4. weka 4

    The other thread here is why the Intercept, which has a strong reputation of protecting sources, was so cavalier with this information as to lead to the leaker’s arrest.

    • One Anonymous Bloke 4.1

      …that’s one interpretation of the facts to hand. Another is that the leaker was careless, and seems to have volunteered a confession during the execution of a search warrant.

      The Intercept have denied knowledge of the source’s identity.

      Edit: This from Huffington Post:

      The NSA conducted an internal audit and determined that six people had printed the May 5 report. The agency audited six desktop computers and found that Winner “had email contact” with the news outlet and that no others had communicated with the publication.

      No tradecraft whatsoever.

      • One Anonymous Bloke 4.2.1

        The alleged leaker left fingerprints everywhere. See 5.1

        • weka 4.2.1.1

          Yes, but I would expect The Intercept to walk any leaker through what those issues are before deciding to publish. Maybe the leaker didn’t know or they didn’t care, but either way it’s not a good look for The Intercept.

            • weka 4.2.1.1.1.1

              Yes. So the message now is that if you want to leak and don’t know what you are doing, The Intercept may publish without regard for your safety.

              Btw, I’ve read that article before, so just did a keyword search for ‘print’, and got nothing. Speculation is that the leaker printed out the information, and that left a trail.

              • One Anonymous Bloke

                “Speculation” – well, that’s what it says in the arrest warrant – see Joe90’s link at 5.2.

            • Bill 4.2.1.1.1.2

              So assuming an intent to provide hard copy – not printing a ‘top secret’ document off at work (or photocopying any hard-copy at work either) and not then singing like a canary when the authorities turn up at your door. Those are just the bog standard ‘common sense’ type of things to not do. And always have been. (That The Intercept spells it out and doesn’t assume any given level of common sense is good.)

              I’d be interested to know how an anonymous source for material gets ‘walked through’ any issues by any prospective recipient of said information btw… given that they’re anonymous.

              • One Anonymous Bloke

                I take Weka’s point though: The Intercept puts would-be whistleblowers at risk by its very existence; its promise of (probably illusory) anonymity.

                That said, at least it’s a risk they volunteer for.

        • joe90 4.2.1.2

          An actual whistleblower?.

          btw – Trumpette going after the alleged leaker

  5. francesca 5

    The US intelligence agencies were also convinced without a shadow of a doubt that Russian spy agencies had hacked Macron’s emails.
    All the “respectable ” newspapers were full of it, until French intelligence admitted there was no evidence whatsoever of Russian hacking
    It’s nigh impossible anyway to identify who hacked what, as all hackers use code they’ve acquired from previous hacks
    As Wikileaks pointed out recently in the Vault 7 drop, the CIA has developed cyber tools to deflect the blame of their own cyber espionage on to other nations
    So I would be taking this latest attempt to smear Trump with the wicked Russia angle with a large pinch of salt

  6. timeforacupoftea 6

    Well – lets hope Mr Andrew Little and Jacinda (dam my minds gone blank) have the Russians on speed dial !

    Thank Goodness for Google.
    Miss Jacinda Ardern.

  7. D'Esterre 7

    “Russian military intelligence executed a cyberattack on at least one U.S. 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.”

    Well, of COURSE they did, those dastardly Russians! And published by the Intercept! Good grief: as if anyone could take any of that seriously. The entire story of the leak – and subsequent arrest of the leaker – reads like a b-grade Hollywood script. Which is true of much of what’s come out of the US political arena over the last – how long? Life imitating art…..

    I’m trying to recall if the liberal msm ever claimed Bush jr. won office because of Russian hacking/interference. Oh that’s right: it was the hanging chads, first time round at least. But even so, it was probably the Russians dunnit: we all know that they’re the evil empire, don’t we?

    [lprent: If you are just going to do the same lines with minor variations over and over again, then you are just trolling. I looked at your comments over the last couple of days and I think that you need time off. You are sounding stupidly repetitive.

    BTW: If you are going to attempt satire, then I’d suggest that you need a lot of work on it to make it at least attempt to have some wit rather than simply being dire or dreary and goddamn boring. Remember that I have to read this goddamn crap whenever I have time to moderate. I dislike wincing this much on a single person’s comments.

    Take a week off, and consider that it is a warning to improve. ]

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