NSA report says Russians targeted USA voting infrastructure; alleged leaker arrested

Russian hackers tried to compromise United States election officials and a voting software company right before Election Day, according to a top secret report from the National Security Agency.

The NSA report said operatives from the GRU, Russia's military intelligence agency, apparently targeted employees at VR Systems, a Florida-based company that supplies election software and equipment for eight states, last August and again in late October.

The New York Post reports that Reality Leigh Winner, a 25-year-old federal contractor at Pluribus International Corporation in Augusta, Georgia, was charged by the U.S. Justice Department on June 5 with "removing classified material from a government facility and mailing it to a news outlet", The Intercept, in early May.

The NSA document did not say if the cyberattack had any effect on election results and admitted much is still unknown, but it "raises the possibility that Russian hacking may have breached at least some elements of the voting system, with disconcertingly uncertain results", The Intercept said.

Sources confirmed to NBC News that victor was the person behind the leak of the document.

A US government contractor was arrested by federal agents at her Georgia home over the weekend, accused of unlawfully leaking classified material to a news organization.

The US Justice Department said on Monday (5 June) that victor was a contractor with Pluribus International Corporation and was assigned to a US government agency facility in Georgia.

The report shows that, by trying to steal log-in credentials and using spear-fishing emails to plant malware, the hackers "obtained and maintained access to elements of multiple U.S. state or local electoral boards". For example, former NSA contractor Edward Snowden in 2013 disclosed secret documents to journalists, including The Intercept's Greenwald, that revealed broad USA surveillance programs. "Authorities zeroed in on victor because she was the only one who had been in email contact with the news organization, according to the affidavit".

Once rare, leak cases have become far more common in the 21st century, in part because of electronic trails that make it easier for investigators to determine who both had access to a leaked document and was in contact with a reporter.

The DOJ's statement also said victor, who is charged with "removing classified material from a government facility and mailing it to a news outlet", admitted to leaking the document.

The Justice Department says victor admitted to leaking the documents when the Federal Bureau of Investigation searched her home on Saturday. "All this craziness has happened all of a sudden". In May, she allegedly used that clearance to print and removed a top secret intelligence report from the agency, which she then sent it to an unspecified news outlet.

In one, the Russian hackers posed as another voting company, referred to as U.S. company 2, from which they sent phony test emails - offering "election-related products and services".

Asked if victor had confessed, Nichols said, "If there is a confession, the government has not shown it to me".

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