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Top Russian officials authorized the DNC hack and others, US says

'The U.S. Intelligence Community is confident that the Russian Government directed the recent compromises.'
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Reuters/Maxim Shemetov

Russia directed the hack of the Democratic National Committee and other recent invasions of political organizations, according to the US Department of Homeland Security and Office of the Director of National Intelligence on Election Security. The collective US Intelligence Community says that the attacks were intended to disrupt the on-going US presidential election, and given the scope of the intrusions, only the most senior Russian officials could have authorized them.

"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 USIC writes.

Russia has long been accused of orchestrating the hacks, but top officials have just as often denied their involvement. In early September, Russian president Vladimir Putin said, "On a state level Russia has never done this," but then followed it with a caveat, saying, "Listen, does it even matter who hacked this data? The important thing is the content that was given to the public."

The USIC also addressed recent foreign attempts to swipe data from state elections systems, noting that even though the attacks stemmed from servers operated by a Russian company, it wasn't clear if the Russian government was involved. However, since voting machines are not connected to the internet and there are other safeguards in place, hackers wouldn't be able to directly influence the election with an attack on these systems, the USIC says.

"The USIC and the Department of Homeland Security assess that it would be extremely difficult for someone, including a nation-state actor, to alter actual ballot counts or election results by cyber attack or intrusion," USIC says. "This assessment is based on the decentralized nature of our election system in this country and the number of protections state and local election officials have in place."

Still, the DHS is helping some states improve their cybersecurity systems and it urges officials to ask for assistance in running scans, assessing risks and establishing best practices.

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