The Washington Times Weekly - - Geopolitics -

The White House is promising un­spec­i­fied re­tal­i­a­tion against Rus­sia for its hack­ing op­er­a­tion aimed at in­flu­enc­ing the out­come of the 2016 pres­i­den­tial elec­tion.

“The pres­i­dent has made it clear that we will take ac­tion to pro­tect our in­ter­ests, in­clud­ing in cy­berspace, and we will do so at a time and place of our choos­ing,” a se­nior ad­min­is­tra­tion of­fi­cial told In­side the Ring. “Con­sis­tent with the prac­tice we have adopted in the past, the pub­lic should not as­sume that they will nec­es­sar­ily know what ac­tions have been taken or what ac­tions we will take.”

Crit­ics say the ad­min­is­tra­tion in the past has failed to take ap­pro­pri­ate re­tal­ia­tory ac­tions against cy­ber­at­tacks, such as af­ter the North Korean hack­ing against Sony Pic­tures En­ter­tain­ment in 2014.

Now the Rus­sians have been linked to hack­ing against the U.S. po­lit­i­cal campaign.

A joint state­ment is­sued Fri­day by the De­part­ment of Home­land Se­cu­rity and of­fice of the Di­rec­tor of Na­tional In­tel­li­gence stated that “se­nior-most” of­fi­cials in the Rus­sian govern­ment ap­proved the hack­ing. The state­ment said U.S. in­tel­li­gence agen­cies are “con­fi­dent that the Rus­sian govern­ment di­rected the re­cent com­pro­mises of e-mails from U.S. per­sons and in­sti­tu­tions, in­clud­ing from U.S. po­lit­i­cal or­ga­ni­za­tions.”

“The re­cent dis­clo­sures of al­leged hacked e-mails 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,” the state­ment said.

“These thefts and dis­clo­sures are in­tended to in­ter­fere with the U.S. elec­tion process,” it added. “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 there.”

In­tel­li­gence agen­cies have been un­able to link re­cent scan­ning of elec­tion-re­lated net­works in Ari­zona and Illi­nois to the Rus­sians, al­though the scan­ning “orig­i­nated from servers op­er­ated by a Rus­sian com­pany.”

Ad­di­tion­ally, Amer­i­can in­tel­li­gence agen­cies say it would be ex­tremely dif­fi­cult for hack­ers, even those work­ing for na­tion-states, to al­ter bal­lot counts or elec­tion re­sults through cy­ber at­tacks or in­tru­sions.

State elec­tion au­thor­i­ties were urged to avoid link­ing vot­ing ma­chines to the in­ter­net.

Home­land Se­cu­rity has set up an Elec­tion In­fra­struc­ture Cy­ber­se­cu­rity Work­ing Group to ed­u­cate state of­fi­cials on cy­ber se­cu­rity for elec­tion in­fra­struc­ture.

The ad­min­is­tra­tion of­fi­cial said: “The Amer­i­can pub­lic and our democ­racy are re­silient to for­eign at­tempts to ma­nip­u­late pub­lic opin­ion. The U.S. govern­ment is com­mit­ted to en­sur­ing a se­cure elec­tion process and has ro­bust ca­pa­bil­i­ties to de­tect ef­forts to in­ter­fere with our elec­tions.”

Doc­u­ments and emails held by the Demo­cratic Na­tional Com­mit­tee were hacked along with the email ac­count of John Podesta, campaign chair­man for Demo­cratic nom­i­nee Hil­lary Clin­ton.

The Podesta emails, dat­ing from 2008, in­clude re­veal­ing de­tails of in­ter­nal dis­cus­sions by Mrs. Clin­ton’s ad­vis­ers on her email scan­dal, in­clud­ing dis­cus­sions of how to de­flect crit­i­cism for her use of an un­se­cure email server while she was sec­re­tary of state.

One email from Au­gust 2015 in­cluded a draft of a state­ment by Mrs. Clin­ton ex­plain­ing why she used the pri­vate email. Clin­ton ad­viser Dan Sch­w­erin says a re­vised ver­sion of the state­ment is “not de­fi­ant but not par­tic­u­larly con­trite ei­ther.”

Mr. Podesta’s emails con­tain per­sonal in­for­ma­tion that could be used by hack­ers and oth­ers, in­clud­ing his Social Se­cu­rity num­ber and home ad­dress.

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