Feds Arrest NSA Contractor in Leak of Top Secret Russia Document

Posted June 06, 2017

A secret National Security Agency (NSA) document reportedly shows that the Russian military launched a cyberattack against a USA voting software company, and sent phishing emails with malware-infected Microsoft Word documents to over 100 election officials shortly before the November 2016 election. The government intelligence report suggests that the election-related hacking penetrated further into USA voting systems than previously known.

A 25-year-old U.S. government contractor has been charged with mishandling classified information, after authorities say she gave a top-secret National Security Agency document to a news organisation.

The NSA report does not say if Russia's hacking actually affected the 2016 USA presidential election, but the agency does say that the hackers were part of a team with a "cyber espionage mandate specifically directed at US and foreign elections".

On August 24 of a year ago, Russian hackers sent emails created to look like they were from Google to employees of an unnamed US election software company.

The Associated Press could not confirm the authenticity of the report.

USA intelligence agencies declined to comment. He also declined to name the federal agency for which victor worked.

In late October, the group established an "operational" Gmail account and posed as an employee from VR Systems - using previously obtained documents to launch another spear-phishing attack "targeting United States local government organizations", the report says.

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The document did not name any state.

The report shows that, by trying to steal log-in credentials and using spear-fishing emails to plant malware, the hackers "obtained and maintained access to elements of multiple USA state or local electoral boards".

The Intercept said that the agency, Washington's most important signals intelligence body, sought first to dissuade them from publishing it, and then requested redactions. Reality Leigh Winner, 25, who reportedly worked at an NSA facility in Georgia, was arrested over the weekend. But it is "unknown whether the aforementioned spear-phishing deployment successfully compromised all the intended victims, and what potential data from the victim could have been exfiltrated", the NSA report said. In a statement, the Justice Department said that victor had admitted to removing classified intelligence from her workspace in Augusta, Georgia, the soon-to-be home of the US Army Cyber Command near Fort Gordon.

"My client has no (criminal) history, so it's not as if she has a pattern of having done anything like this before", Nichols said in a phone interview Monday.

Once rare, leak cases have become far more common in the 21st century, in part because of electronic trails that make it easier for investigators to determine who both had access to a leaked document and was in contact with a reporter. "All this craziness has happened all of a sudden". Investigation into the six people involved in printing that document revealed victor had been in contact with The Intercept around the time it changed hands. Garrick said investigators found victor had exchanged email with the news outlet using her work computer.

"Approximately a few days later, victor unlawfully transmitted by mail the intelligence reporting to an online news outlet", the Justice Department continued, adding that victor admitted printing the document following her arrest.

"I think she's trying to be courageous for me", Billie Winner said.