The US has officially accused the Russian government of directing the recent hacks on politically-related targets, including the Democratic National Committee.
The accusations, made by the Department of Homeland Security and Office of the Director of National Intelligence on Election Security, are a notable step up in the rhetoric between the two nations on cyber matters.
"The US Intelligence Community [USIC] is confident that the Russian government directed the recent compromises of emails from US persons and institutions, including from US political organisations," the organisation said.
The statement explained that authorities in Moscow have sought to undermine trust in the US political system and the election process, much as they have done in eastern Europe.
"The recent disclosures of alleged hacked emails on sites like DCLeaks.com and WikiLeaks and by the Guccifer 2.0 online persona are consistent with the methods and motivations of Russian-directed efforts,” USIC said.
“These thefts and disclosures are intended to interfere with the US election process. 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.”
The report also noted that there have been attempted intrusions into election-related systems via servers “operated by a Russian company”.
However, the US government stopped short of directly implicating the Russian government in this, noting that the nature of the election systems makes nation-state interferences very difficult.
“The USIC and the Department of Homeland Security assess that it would be extremely difficult for someone, including a nation-state actor, to alter actual ballot counts or election results by cyber attack or intrusion,” the government said.
“This assessment is based on the decentralised nature of our election system in this country and the number of protections that state and local election officials have in place.
“States ensure that voting machines are not connected to the internet, and there are numerous checks and balances as well as extensive oversight at multiple levels built into our election process.”
The report was somewhat overshadowed in the wider political debate by the furore caused by comments made by Donald Trump dating back to 2005.
Nevertheless, the direct and confrontational nature of the US statement against Russia is a notable step in the worsening relations between the two countries.
The US has also been embroiled in cyber controversies with other nations, filing charges against five members of China's army last year and claiming that North Korea was behind the hack on Sony Pictures in 2014.
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