FBI Blamed NSA Intelligence Contractor of Russian Hacking

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06.07.2018

FBI Blamed NSA Intelligence Contractor of Russian Hacking

Journalists of national security along with distributors of classified materials fully realize that publicity of secrets of the governmental level is a very risky activity. Calculation of the source of information disseminated and criminal responsibility requires a lot of time, so this is happening very rare. Nevertheless, the disclosure of the hacking of the Russian elections, which was recently learned, took a little less than an hour.

On Monday afternoon, a criminal complaint was filed by the Department of Justice against the 25-year-old scout Reality Leigh Winner, who violated a secret permit, and published a secret document in early May. Most likely, it is talked about the same document that got into the publication from Intercept on Monday, a couple of hours before this news.

FBI Blamed NSA Intelligence Contractor of Russian HackingThe NSA document says that VR Systems, a technology company based in Florida that sells voting equipment (which was involved in the 2016 election), was subject to a hacker attack, which in turn was allegedly related to the Russian military. NBC News also announced that Winner was charged with the Department of Justice for the leakage of this information. This lightning-fast reaction once again underlined all the risks that should be taken during the publication of top-secret data and showed the downside, which is facing journalism, giving publicity to information that was an illegal leak.

Rod J. Rosenstein, who holds the post of deputy attorney general, said that the publication of classified documents without prior permission immediately reduces the level of public confidence in the government and is a direct threat to the security of the whole country. He also added that the persons responsible for the protection of classified information should bear criminal liability for violation of their obligations.

The Justice Department reports that the employee of the contracting firm “Pluribus”, which belongs to the Georgian government facility Augusta, and represents Winner, accused of publishing classified information, deleted the NSA file on May 9 and sent it to the newsletter. On Monday, Intercept received an anonymous document containing secret information about the fact that Russian election was hacked. Reporters of the Intercept compiled a report that highlighted the officials of the Office of the Director of National Intelligence and the NSA raw file that needs to be adjusted to avoid any harm to national security.

As soon as the document Intercept got to the above organizations, the federal government deployed an operation to monitor sources of leakage. Justin Garrick, who is an FBI agent, stressed that the document contained a puzzling similarity to the information published by Intercept, and also conducted a more detailed analysis and concluded that the document was sent by mail. The printer logs were checked in detail and it was calculated that the data on the breaking of the Russian elections were printed by 6 people.

The main miscalculation of Winner was that correspondence with reporters from the Intercept was conducted from a personal working computer. Necessary evidence quickly emerged after checking the computers of all six suspects. The only thing that remained unclear precisely was the direct relationship with the leakage of information from Winner, and the correct chronology of events. Just a couple of days before the publication of the Intercept’s article, based on the NSA file, a conversation took place between Winner and Justin Garrick. During the interrogation, it became clear that Winner was consciously committed to the breach of obligations.

The Intercept continues to pursue a policy of unconsciousness. Vivian Siu, who is the director of public relations, said that the Intercept does not have information about the identity of its source, and refused to give any more explanations.

The article, which the Intercept announced, is yet another confirmation of the information that Russian hackers carefully prepared to block the presidential election in the US in 2016. A couple of days before the November elections, VR employees received phishing emails that allowed access to the company’s domestic web system. It was assumed that such actions could interfere with voting in 8 states, however, there was no evidence that it really happened. The cybersecurity organization, along with intellectual property protection agencies, for several months gathered data that the Russian government would try to disrupt the 2016 elections by hacking democratic organizations and stealing important data. But even so, the recently announced report showed that Russian hackers had several attempts to disrupt the election through violation of the technical part.

With the confirmation of the fact that the anonymous source of Intercept is Winner – this will be a great progress in the public comprehension of the game scheme, which is led by Russian hackers. As in the case of such kind of sinks of the secret information and the presence of anonymous informants, such actions require large financial costs.


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