US Election: Russian hackers Attack US networks


Russian hackers have attempted in a widespread attack since September to break into the computers and networks of American authorities in view of the upcoming presidential election. As the Federal Police FBI and the Ministry of Homeland Security's cybersecurity agency (Cisa) announced on Friday night, dozens of attacks were directed against government institutions in states and municipalities as well as networks in the aviation industry.

They started out from "state-supported" groups, namely a hacker group known as the Berserk Bear or Dragonfly 2.0. According to the Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution, these hackers are also behind an attack on the networks of German energy companies and power grid operators and are said to have carried out similar attacks in the USA.

The Russian Kremlin  Rejects The Allegations As "baseless"

In the course of October, the group had succeeded in breaking into an unspecified number of networks and stealing data in at least two cases. The authorities did not disclose which networks are affected and where data was stolen. 

The FBI spoke of a "shining spotlight on the shameful behaviour of Russia". Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov dismissed the allegations as "absolutely baseless". Russia regularly denies that the hackers are working on behalf of the state or that its intelligence services are trying to influence elections abroad.

However, the new warning also calls into question the representation of the administration of US President Donald Trump from the previous day, when National Intelligence Director John Ratcliffe and FBI chief Christopher Wray warned against interference from Iran. 

Hackers from the Islamic Republic are said to be behind threatening emails to voters registered as Democrats. These came ostensibly from the right-wing radical group Proud Boys and called for Trump to be elected. The aim, according to the authorities, was to harm the president and to inspire resistance against him.

The Attack Should be Systems Relevant to The Election

The US secret services do not yet have a clear picture of what exactly the Russian hackers are planning. However, they reckon they could try to influence the outcome shortly before the November 3rd election or to stir up people in the US after the election, especially if the outcome is a tight one and a scenario in which Trump declared himself the winner without a clear official result. 

 The New York Times reported, citing unnamed government officials, that the target of the attacks were systems relevant to the election. Voting machines are used in some states, and there are also systems that are used for counting and electoral roll databases that determine who is authorized to vote. 

These are more important in the USA than in Germany, for example, where the registers are created from data from the registration offices. In some states, citizens must be actively registered in the electoral roll in order to be eligible to vote. Director Christopher Krebs made it clear, however, that computers for casting or counting votes were not affected.
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