Russia likely engaged in a spear-phishing campaign shortly after the U.S. presidential election in order to gain intelligence on President-elect Donald Trump’s upcoming administration, according to a U.S. intelligence report.
The campaign targeted U.S. government employees, think tanks and nongovernmental agencies (NGOs), the report said, which was published by the Office of the Director of National Intelligence Friday. The U.S. intelligence community assessed that Russia will use this information to gather intel on the future Trump administration’s policies.
“We assess Russian intelligence services will continue to develop capabilities to provide Putin with options to use against the United States, judging from past practice and current efforts. Immediately after Election Day, we assess Russian intelligence began a spearphishing campaign targeting US Government employees and individuals associated with US think tanks and NGOs in national security, defense, and foreign policy fields,” said the report. “This campaign could provide material for future influence efforts as well as foreign intelligence collection on the incoming administration’s goals and plans.”
Russia also collected information on “Republican-affiliated targets,” but did not disclose them in the same manner as it did with information collected on Democratic Party targets.
Spear-phishing is the process by which a cyber criminal sends a fake email from a familiar looking source, such as a friend or business, to a target in an effort to steal user names, passwords, credit card numbers, bank account numbers and other personal information. Russian hacker group Fancy Bear is believed to have used this tactic to gain access to former Hillary Clinton campaign chairman John Podesta’s email account.
The report determined that Russia engaged in an “influence campaign” targeting the 2016 election in an attempt to “undermine public faith in the U.S. democratic process, denigrate Secretary Clinton, and harm her electability and potential presidency.”
The intelligence community assessed that Russian intelligence agencies will continue to provide Russian President Vladimir Putin with “options” to use against the U.S. during the Trump presidency.
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