Russia's alleged interference in the US election

The United States intelligence community has concluded that senior Russian government officials were behind an unprecedented effort to influence the election in November by hacking and leaking documents that could harm Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton's chances of winning.

The declassified report, released on Jan 6, did not include the actual intelligence or technical information on which it was based.

It said the release of such information would reveal sensitive sources or methods.

Here are some instances of Russian interference cited in the report drafted by the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and the National Security Agency (NSA).

1 CYBER SPYING

"Russia's intelligence services conducted cyber operations against targets associated with the 2016 US presidential election, including targets associated with both US major political parties."

Russian intelligence was found to have gained access to Democratic National Committee (DNC) networks in July 2015 and maintained that access until at least June last year.

While it also collected information from some Republican-affiliated targets, it did not conduct a "comparable disclosure campaign".

2 WORK WITH WIKILEAKS

It said the GRU, which is the Russian military intelligence, relayed material it acquired from the DNC and senior Democratic officials to WikiLeaks.

"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."

3 MEDIA PROPAGANDA

"Russia's state-run propaganda machine - comprised of its domestic media apparatus, outlets targeting global audiences such as RT and Sputnik, and a network of quasi-government trolls - contributed to the influence campaign by serving as a platform for Kremlin messaging to Russian and international audiences."

It said RT's coverage of Mrs Clinton throughout the US presidential campaign was consistently negative and focused on her leaked e-mails. The TV network also accused her of corruption, poor physical and mental health, and ties to Islamist extremism.

Online trolls helped amplify stories on scandals about Mrs Clinton. Some social media accounts tied to Russia's professional trolls started to advocate for Mr Trump as early as December 2015.

One of the more colourful notes in the report describes how "pro-Kremlin bloggers had prepared a Twitter campaign, #DemocracyRIP, on election night", then had to shelve it when Mr Trump won.

4 SPEARPHISHING

"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, defence and foreign policy fields. This campaign could provide material for future influence efforts as well as foreign intelligence collection on the incoming administration's goals and plans."

Spearphishing is done by sending fake e-mails intended to trick victims into typing in their usernames and passwords.

REUTERS, NYTIMES, WASHINGTON POST

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 16, 2017, with the headline 'Russia's alleged interference in the US election'. Print Edition | Subscribe