U.S. Government Releases Proof That Russians Were Behind Hacks During Election

The Department of Homeland Security and the FBI released a joint report on Thursday including proof that Russia was behind the highly-disputed hacks that crippled the Democratic Party during the election. The 13-page report details not only how the Russians used malware and phishing scams to find their way into the DNC server, but they also released evidence with more to be released soon.

“All Americans should be alarmed by Russia’s action,” President Obama said in a statement announcing new sanctions on the Russian government.

“These data theft and disclosure activities could only have been directed by the highest levels of the Russian government,” Obama said. “Such activities have consequences.”

The Joint Analysis Report (JAR) was released shortly after Obama announced the U.S. will ban access to two Russian-owned facilities in New York and Maryland linked to intelligence activities and throw 35 Russian intelligence operatives out of the country.

[Image by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images]

According to the Associated Press, the report is the first time evidence has been released proving Russia sought to influence the election by hacking information from the DNC’s server and private email accounts.

“The report said the intelligence services were involved in ‘an ongoing campaign of cyber-enabled operations directed at the U.S. government and its citizens.’ It added, ‘In some cases, (the Russian intelligence services’) actors masqueraded as third parties, hiding behind false online personas designed to cause the victim to misattribute the source of the attack.'”

The U.S. government strongly believes that the report’s findings detailing how two Russian teams used phishing emails sent to more than 1,000 government officials as proof that the hacks were orchestrated by the Russian government.

“Once [the groups gained] access to victims, both groups exfiltrate and analyze information to gain intelligence value,” the report said.

The report cites a Yara Signature and Indicators of Compromise (IOCs) as proof that Russia was responsible for hacks during the election. Yara is a tool used to identify malware software and IOCs are pieces of data found in log files that identify malicious activity.

The New York Times reports that more evidence that Russia was behind the hacks will be released in less than one month.

“A more detailed report on the intelligence, ordered by Mr. Obama, will be published in the next three weeks, though much of the detail — especially evidence collected from ‘implants’ in Russian computer systems, tapped conversations and spies — is expected to remain classified.”

Donald Trump issued a statement in light of the sanctions imposed on Russia in retaliation for its involvement in the hacks against his opponent during the election.

U.S. releases proof Russia was behind hacks after Trump has denied Russian influence for months
[Image by Win McNamee/Getty Images]

“It is time for our country to move on to bigger and better things,” Trump said. “Nevertheless, in the interest of our country and its great people, I will meet with leaders of the intelligence community next week in order to be updated on the facts of this situation.”

Trump’s reaction on Thursday is a stark contrast to his comments made a press conference in July when he called on Russia to apparently hack Clinton and recover the emails she deleted from her private server.

“Russia, if you’re listening, I hope you’re able to find the 30,000 emails that are missing,” Trump said. “I think you will probably be rewarded mightily by our press.”

Trump recently took to Twitter to cast more doubt that Russia is to blame, and on Wednesday, the president-elect urged the nation not to worry about it during a brief press event at his Mar-a-Lago home.

“I think we ought to get on with our lives,” he said. “I think that computers have complicated lives very greatly. The whole age of computer has made it where nobody knows exactly what is going on. We have speed, we have a lot of other things, but I’m not sure we have the kind, the security we need.”

It’ll be interesting to see if Trump changes his opinion on the Russian hacking after attending his next classified briefing. Will he change his tone now that proof has emerged connecting the DNC hacks and compromised personal email accounts to Russian operatives that dogged the Democratic Party during the election? The world will soon know the answer to that question within the next couple weeks.

[Featured Image by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images]