The Obama administration released a statement Friday asserting it was "confident" Russia was behind a recent series of election-related security breaches, including the hacking of the Democratic National Committee. In a joint statement from the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and James Clapper, director of national intelligence, Russia is accused of "thefts and disclosures" were carried out in an effort to "interfere" with the forthcoming presidential election.
"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, which notes that only Russia's highest ranking officials could have authorized such attacks, reads. "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 there."
DHS officials recommend that both state and local election officers remain vigilant, suggesting they acquire cybersecurity assistance as voting draws near. "These services include cyber 'hygiene' scans of Internet-facing systems, risk and vulnerability assessments, information sharing about cyber incidents, and best practices for securing voter registration databases and addressing potential cyber threats," the statement explains. "DHS has convened an Election Infrastructure Cybersecurity Working Group with experts across all levels of government to raise awareness of cybersecurity risks potentially affecting election infrastructure and the elections process."
Russian interference has remained a hot topic during this election cycle, including the GOP nominee's apparent challenge to the country to hack Hillary Clinton in July. "This has to be the first time that a major presidential candidate has actively encouraged a foreign power to conduct espionage against his political opponent," Jake Sullivan, Clinton’s foreign policy advisor, said in a statement at the time. "That's not hyperbole, those are just the facts."