13:36 Oct. 12, 2016
The White House promises to react after intelligence confirmed Moscow hacked US organizations and leaked thousands of files
White House press secretary Josh Earnest said Tuesday that President Barack Obama is considering "a range of responses" but isn't likely to announce one in advance. Washington believes the hack-and-leak scandal could lead to Russian attempts to interfere in presidential elections in November.
"The president has talked before about the significant capabilities that the U.S. government has to both defend our systems in the United States but also carry out offensive operations in other countries," Josh Earnest said.
On October 7th, the U.S. intelligence community in a public statement accused senior officials in the Russian government of directing the cyberattack operation. The conclusion came after several months of thorough investigation by FBI and US intelligence agencies. Russian officials deny involvement in hacking.
"We obviously will ensure that our response is proportional," Mr. Earnest said. "It is certainly possible that the president can choose response options that we never announce," he said. However, he did not specify what it could be – new sanctions, criminal prosecution or a US cyberattack.
The hacking scandal started in May 2016. The Democratic National Committee (DNC) became concerned about suspicious behaviour on its computer network. During the investigation, two hacker groups were found on the system, one that had just entered and another that had been there for nearly a year. Overall, Hillary Clinton and the US accuse Russian hackers of stealing and leaking more than 19,000 emails and documents.
"We believe, based on the scope and sensitivity of these efforts, that only Russia's senior-most officials could have authorized these activities," said the office of the director of national intelligence and the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) in a joint statement.