In March, Russian intelligence forces under the order of Russian President Vladimir Putin launched a sophisticated influence campaign against Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton, according to a newly released report from the Office of the Director of National Intelligence.
Putin ordered the campaign to “denigrate Secretary Clinton, and harm her electability and potential presidency,” ODNI states in its unclassified report released Friday.
The multifaceted operation included the digital theft of information held by U.S. political campaigns and organizations, think tanks and lobbying groups, which Russian officials viewed as likely to shape future policy. Democratic and Republican organizations were targeted.
Russian intelligence first gained access to Democratic National Committee, or DNC, networks in July 2015. The hackers were able to maintain access until at least June 2016, around the same time when private cybersecurity firm CrowdStrike was contracted by the organization.
U.S. spies confirmed that the documents, communications and other information stolen from the DNC and political operatives by the Russians was ultimately passed onto WikiLeaks, state-backed Russian news networks and multiple proxy disclosure websites — including a blog used by a faux hacker named Guccifer 2.0 and the site DCLeaks.com.
“We assess with high confidence that the GRU used the Guccifer 2.0 persona, DCLeaks.com, and WikiLeaks to release US victim data obtained in cyber operations publicly and in exclusives to media outlets,” the declassified report reads.