Moscow denied on Tuesday a US National Security Agency report that accuses Russia of attacking at least one US voting software supplier before last year’s presidential election.
“Apart from this claim which absolutely does not conform to reality, we have not seen any other information nor heard any arguments for the reliability of this information,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told journalists.
“We resolutely deny the possibility that such a thing could have happened,” he said, adding that he had not read the report.
The report by the National Security Agency was allegedly leaked by a private contractor just over a month after it was written and published Monday on The Intercept, an online news website which focuses on national security issues.
The Kremlin strongly denied the report that Russian military intelligence hackers tried to infiltrate into US voting systems.
The classified report said Russian military intelligence agency GRU attacked the software company and sent spear-phishing emails to local election officials around October and November.
The Justice Department announced Monday it had charged a government contractor in Georgia with leaking a classified report containing “Top Secret level” information to an online news organization. The report the contractor allegedly leaked is dated May 5, the same date as the document The Intercept posted online.
The document said Russian military intelligence “executed cyber espionage operations against a named US company in August 2016 evidently to obtain information on elections-related software and hardware solutions, according to information that became available in April 2017.”
The hackers are believed to have then used data from that operation to create a new email account to launch a spear-phishing campaign targeting US local government organizations, the document said.
“Lastly, the actors send test emails to two non-existent accounts ostensibly associated with absentee balloting, presumably with the purpose of creating those accounts to mimic legitimate services.”
The document did not name any state.
The information in the leaked document seems to go further than the US intelligence agencies’ January assessment of the hacking that occurred.
“Russian intelligence obtained and maintained access to elements of multiple US state or local electoral boards,” the assessment said. The Department of Homeland Security “assesses that the types of systems Russian actors targeted or compromised were not involved in vote tallying.”
It did not say whether the hacking had any effect on election results.
President Vladimir Putin last week said that hackers can come from any country since they are “free people like artists” and conceded it was theoretically possible that a “patriotically minded” hacker could decide to act against those critical of Russia.
He insisted however that “we never get involved in this on a state level.”
The Kremlin strongman also suggested that attacks could be designed to appear to come from Russia in order to discredit the country, while saying that in his opinion hacking cannot influence electoral campaigns in Europe, Asia or America.