What Will Trump Do To Address Russian Attack On Election?

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While nobody will argue that Donald doesn’t know his way around a 140-character tweet, I think it’s fair to say cybersecurity experts and the US Intelligence Community know more about hacking than he does–by an order of magnitude or more. Trump can try and deny it all he wants, but the experts have spoken and they have determined with a high degree of confidence that Russia waged an active campaign to influence the election in Trump’s favor. The question is–now that he will soon be President of the United States–what, if anything, will Donald do to respond or guard against similar attacks in the future?

It’s a virtual certainty that Russia engaged in an active campaign intended to undermine the US election process. Whether or not the campaign had any influence, or to what extent that influence swayed the outcome of the election may be up for debate, but US Intelligence Agencies have laid out a case in relatively certain terms proving that Russia waged an attack on US democracy.

The President-Elect has disparaged US Intelligence Agencies and claims to know more on the subject than the experts tasked with investigating such things, but after he met with the leaders of the Intelligence Agencies today for an extensive briefing he expressed in a statement that he has tremendous respect for the work and service they do. Of course, he followed that with a seemingly baseless assertion that there was absolutely no effect on the outcome of the election, and something bordering on suggesting that the RNC servers are just unhackable.

“It’s clear no one is on the same page here, especially as Trump continues to deny accusations that the Russians had anything to do with hacking the DNC. It’s obvious whoever did the hacking certainly wanted to influence the election in a negative way for the DNC,” declared Ajay Arora, co-founder and CEO of Vera.

Russian Influence

The Obama administration released a declassified version of the report assessing Russian activities and intentions as it relates to the recent US elections. It lays out a series of key judgments:

Russian efforts to influence the 2016 US presidential election represent the most recent expression of Moscow’s longstanding desire to undermine the US-led liberal democratic order, but these activities demonstrated a significant escalation in directness, level of activity, and scope of effort compared to previous operations.

We assess Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered an influence campaign in 2016 aimed at the US presidential election. Russia’s goals were to undermine public faith in the US democratic process, denigrate Secretary Clinton, and harm her electability and potential presidency. We further assess Putin and the Russian Government developed a clear preference for President-elect Trump. We have high confidence in these judgments.

  • We also assess Putin and the Russian Government aspired to help President-elect Trump’s election chances when possible by discrediting Secretary Clinton and publicly contrasting her unfavorably to him. All three agencies agree with this judgment. CIA and FBI have high confidence in this judgment; NSA has moderate confidence.
  • Moscow’s approach evolved over the course of the campaign based on Russia’s understanding of the electoral prospects of the two main candidates. When it appeared to Moscow that Secretary Clinton was likely to win the election, the Russian influence campaign began to focus more on undermining her future presidency.
  • Further information has come to light since Election Day that, when combined with Russian behavior since early November 2016, increases our confidence in our assessments of Russian motivations and goals.

Moscow’s influence campaign followed a Russian messaging strategy that blends covert intelligence operations—such as cyber activity—with overt efforts by Russian Government agencies, state-funded media, third-party intermediaries, and paid social media users or “trolls.” Russia, like its Soviet predecessor, has a history of conducting covert influence campaigns focused on US presidential elections that have used intelligence officers and agents and press placements to disparage candidates perceived as hostile to the Kremlin.

  • Russia’s intelligence services conducted cyber operations against targets associated with the 2016 US presidential election, including targets associated with both major US political parties.
  • We assess with high confidence that Russian military intelligence (General Staff Main Intelligence Directorate or GRU) used the Guccifer 2.0 persona and DCLeaks.com to release US victim data obtained in cyber operations publicly and in exclusives to media outlets and relayed material to WikiLeaks.
  • Russian intelligence obtained and maintained access to elements of multiple US state or local electoral boards. DHS assesses that the types of systems Russian actors targeted or compromised were not involved in vote tallying.
  • Russia’s state-run propaganda machine contributed to the influence campaign by serving as a platform for Kremlin messaging to Russian and international audiences.

We assess Moscow will apply lessons learned from its Putin-ordered campaign aimed at the US presidential election to future influence efforts worldwide, including against US allies and their election processes.

Read the full story on Forbes: Cybersecurity Experts Stress Trump Must Take Russian Attack On Democracy Seriously.

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About Author

Tony Bradley is Editor-in-Chief of TechSpective and Community Manager for Tenable. Tony has a passion for technology and gadgets--with a focus on Microsoft and security. He also loves spending time with his family and likes to think he enjoys reading and golf even though he never finds the time for either.

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