In October, we heard that the CIA was preparing to retaliate against Russia following the official revelations that the country was behind the hacks on election and government offices. The United States officially accused Moscow of trying to influence the 2016 US Presidential Election. Last week, NBC reported that the US had penetrated key Russian systems, and will be prepared to take action if the country decides to interfere with tomorrow's election.
The report said Friday that it had learned from a senior U.S. intelligence official and top-secret document that the United States military hackers have broken into Russia's telecommunications networks, electrical power grids, and Kremlin's command systems. These steps have been taken to ensure that the US military is ready to launch cyberattacks against Moscow if the country attempts to influence the November 8 election.
While the White House doesn't anticipate attacks on critical infrastructure, their primary concern appears to be the 11th-hour release of fake documents to implicate candidates without time for the news media to fact check it. "So far, document dumps attributed to the Russians have damaged Democrats and favored Trump," the exclusive report read.
U.S. intelligence officials do not expect Russia to attack critical infrastructure - which many believe would be an act of war - but they do anticipate so-called cyber mischief, including the possible release of fake documents and the proliferation of bogus social media accounts designed to spread misinformation.
These unprecedented efforts to counter "cyber meddling" of the US election involves the White House, the Department of Homeland Security, and reaches across the government to include the CIA, NSA and other elements of the Defense Department.
Russia wants Washington to explain "hacking" claims
In response to the report that claims the US government has already infiltrated critical Russian systems, Moscow wants clarifications from the White House. "If no official reaction from the American administration follows, it would mean state cyberterrorism exists in the US. If the threats of the attack, which were published by the US media, are carried out, Moscow would be justified in charging Washington," Russian Foreign Ministry spokesperson Maria Zakharova said [translated]. "Moscow will have a full right to bring appropriate charges against Washington."
So far, the Russian government has denied all the allegations of hacking the campaign offices or trying to influence the election results. Guccifer 2.0, the hacker who has taken credit for the DNC cyberattacks, has been previously associated with the Russian government. But apart from these links, the US government hasn't made any evidence of the alleged Russian hack public.
The to-and-fro drama continues as the USIC begged to differ. "The U.S. Intelligence Community (USIC) is confident that the Russian Government directed the recent compromises of e-mails from US persons and institutions, including from US political organizations. The recent disclosures of alleged hacked e-mails on sites like DCLeaks.com and WikiLeaks and by the Guccifer 2.0 online persona are consistent with the methods and motivations of Russian-directed efforts. These thefts and disclosures are intended to interfere with the US election process."
Digital security concerns, leaks of documents, massive DDoS attacks, last-minute FBI probes, and the preparations of a possible cyberwar, the 2016 US Presidential Election has been nothing short of a Hollywood thriller - albeit even more disappointing.