It’s official: The White House says Russia has been conducting a broad campaign to interfere with US elections.
This included hacking into the computers of the Democratic National Committee and other agencies and political officials.
“These thefts and disclosures are intended to interfere with the US election process,” the Office of the Director of National Intelligence and the Department of Homeland Security said in a joint statement Friday. “Such activity is not new to Moscow — the Russians have used similar tactics and techniques across Europe and Eurasia, for example, to influence public opinion there.”
The official accusation puts real heft behind allegations that have been percolating since June 14. That’s when the DNC and cybersecurity firm Crowdstrike first pointed to Russian intelligence agencies as the most likely suspect in the hacker whodunnit. Two different teams of hackers infiltrated the political party’s computer systems, each from a different Russian government organization.
Not long after that report, someone calling himself Guccifer 2.0 claimed credit for the DNC hack and began publishing documents and emails purportedly taken from the DNC and other national political organizations. California Sen. Dianne Feinstein, vice chair of the Senate Committee on Intelligence, asserted late last month that Russia was behind the hacks.
Friday’s official statement clearly implicates Russian President Vladimir Putin, without mentioning him by name.
“We believe, based on the scope and sensitivity of these efforts, that only Russia’s senior-most officials could have authorized these activities,” the statement reads.
Dmitry Peskov, Putin’s press secretary, issued a statement of his own.
“This is another piece of nonsense!” Peskov said. “Putin’s website is attacked by tens of thousands of hackers daily. Many are traced to the US territory. But we don’t go blaming them on the White House or Langley every time.” Langley, Virginia, is home to the US Central Intelligence Agency.
CNET’s Laura Hautala contributed to this story.
First published October 7, 1:05 p.m. PT.
Update, 2:05 p.m.: Adds background. October 8 at 2:47 p.m.: Adds comment from Putin’s press secretary.