Report suggests Russia hackers breached voting software firm; contractor arrested for leaks

A report from the NSA said that Russian intelligence hacked a U.S. voting software company. Above Russian President Vladimir Putin

A report from the NSA said that Russian intelligence hacked a U.S. voting software company. Above Russian President Vladimir Putin

Russian hackers cyberattacked a voting software company and sent spear-phishing emails to local election officials, according to a leaked NSA intelligence report.

According to the NSA (CBS has confirmed that this is indeed a real NSA report), last August Russia's military intelligence unit - the GRU - hacked into a software company, likely VR Systems in Florida, that tracks voter registration for eight USA states.

The complaint filed against victor, a contractor with the Pluribus International Corporation who had top-secret security clearances, claims she printed a document with classified intelligence information and mailed it to an online news outlet in early May. ("The NSA analysis does not draw conclusions about whether the interference had any effect on the election's outcome and concedes that much remains unknown about the extent of the hackers' accomplishments.") Incidentally, of the eight states that use VR Systems software, two are Florida and North Carolina - both crucial swing states past year won narrowly by Trump (FL by 1.2 points, NC by 3.6).

CBS News confirmed the authenticity of the report Monday after the 5-page document was published by The Intercept.

The NSA report, which is dated May 5 and says that some its information became available in April, provides dramatic new insight into the intelligence community's assessment of Russian meddling in the 2016 election. But US intelligence officials have repeatedly said vote tallies were not affected in the election, won in a shock upset by Donald Trump.

The Federal Bureau of Investigation and the U.S. Justice Department did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

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The report is published just a days after NBC's Megyn Kelly sat down with Russian President Vladimir Putin to discuss the hacking accusations, which Putin vehemently denies. They successfully gained access to "elements of multiple USA state or local electoral boards", according to the document. 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.

"She has no criminal history; it's not as if she's a threat to anyone, " he said.

Winner's mother Billie Winner-Davis spoke with The Daily Beast, saying that her daughter was "passionate about her views" even if she wasn't a politically active person.

The criminal complaint against victor stems from a National Security Agency document dated May 5 that authorities say was improperly taken from its facility in Georgia. "All this craziness has happened all of a sudden". Winner-Davis said that her daughter recently asked her to help relocate her pets, and that the Justice Department was vague when they informed Winner-Davis about the arrest.

FBI special agent Justin Garrick told a federal court that victor - a cross-fit fan who graduated high school in 2011 and was in the US Air Force apparently as a linguist - confessed to reading and printing out the document, despite having no clearance to do so. Federal authorities said she printed out a copy of the report and mailed it to The Intercept. Out of those six individuals, victor was the only one who had email contact with the news outlet.

"I never thought this would be something she would do", Winner-Davis said.

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