Russian hacking of the 2016 U.S. election included sophisticated targeting of state officials responsible for voter rolls and voting procedures, according to a top secret U.S. intelligence document that was leaked and published this week, revealing another potential method of attempted interference in the vote. The month-old National Security Agency document outlined activities including impersonating an election software vendor to send trick emails to more than 100 state election officials. Analysts at the NSA believed the hackers were working for the Russian military’s General Staff Main Intelligence Directorate, or GRU, according to the document. The document’s publication on Monday by The Intercept, a news outlet that focuses on security issues, received particular attention because an intelligence contractor, Reality Leigh Winner, was charged the same day with leaking it.
U.S. intelligence agencies have previously said the Kremlin tried to influence the election outcome in favor of Republican candidate Donald Trump through leaks during the campaign of hacked emails from Democratic Party officials, aimed at discrediting Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton.
The new revelations suggest that U.S. investigators are also still probing a more direct attempt to attack the election itself, and a federal official confirmed that is the case. However, there is no evidence that hackers were able to manipulate votes, or the vote tally.