The Pentagon reportedly has a secret plan to launch a cyberattack on Russia if it directly interferes with the midterm elections

  • The Department of Defense and US intelligence community reportedly have a secret plan for a cyberattack on Russia if Moscow directly interferes with the midterms next week.
  • US military hackers have been given permission to access Russian networks for the attack, The Center for Public Integrity reported on Friday.
  • For the plan to go ahead, Russia would have to assert "malign influence" on the elections, such as tamper with voting registration and vote recording.
  • Russia is accused of spreading far-right propaganda on Facebook in an attempt to influence the midterms.

The US has prepared to launch a cyberattack on Russia if it directly interferes with the midterm elections next week, according to a report from the Center for Public Integrity (CPI).

The Department of Defense and US intelligence community secretly blueprinted an offensive cyberattack on Russia if it is found to electronically interfere with the elections on November 6, the report said.

It cites unnamed current and former senior US officials who know about the plan.

Details of what the plan would involve, or how it would work, are scant. But it claimed that US military hackers have been given the necessary permission to access Russian networks to carry out an attack.

To trigger the attack, Russia would have to directly interfere with the midterm elections, the report said. This would include actions like attempting to tamper with voting registration or vote tallies.

10 PHOTOS
Jeanette Manfra, head of cybersecurity at the Department of Homeland Security
See Gallery
Jeanette Manfra, head of cybersecurity at the Department of Homeland Security
Jeanette Manfra, Acting Deputy Undersecretary for Cybersecurity at the DHS, listens to testimonies about Russian interference in U.S. elections to the Senate Intelligence Committee in Washington, U.S., June 21, 2017. REUTERS/Joshua Roberts
White House homeland security adviser Tom Bossert looks toward Assistant Secretary at Homeland Security's Office of Cybersecurity and Communications Jeanette Manfra as they hold a briefing publicly blaming North Korea for unleashing the so-called WannaCry cyber attack, at the White House in Washington, U.S., December 19, 2017. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque
Jeanette Manfra, Acting Deputy Undersecretary for Cybersecurity at the DHS, testifies about Russian interference in U.S. elections to the Senate Intelligence Committee in Washington, U.S., June 21, 2017. REUTERS/Joshua Roberts
Jeanette Manfra, chief cybersecurity official for the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), speaks about the Wannacry virus as they announce that the US believes North Korea was behind the cyber attack, during a briefing at the White House in Washington, DC, December 19, 2017. / AFP PHOTO / SAUL LOEB (Photo credit should read SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - JUNE 21: (L-R) Acting Director of Homeland Security's Office of Intelligence and Analysis Cyber Division Sam Liles, Homeland Security Undersecretary Jeanette Manfra, and Assistant Director of the FBI Counterintelligence Division Bill Priestap testify during a hearing before the Senate (Select) Intelligence Committee June 21, 2017 on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC. The committee held a hearing on 'Russia's cyber efforts against our election systems in 2016, our response efforts, potential threats to our 2018 and 2020 elections, and how we are postured to protect against those threats.' (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)
White House homeland security adviser Tom Bossert and Assistant Secretary at Homeland Security's Office of Cybersecurity and Communications Jeanette Manfra hold a briefing publicly blaming North Korea for unleashing the so-called WannaCry cyber attack, at the White House in Washington, U.S., December 19, 2017. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque
WASHINGTON, DC - JUNE 21: Acting Director of Homeland Security's Office of Intelligence and Analysis Cyber Division Sam Liles (L) and Homeland Security Undersecretary Jeanette Manfra (R) testify during a hearing before the Senate (Select) Intelligence Committee June 21, 2017 on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC. The committee held a hearing on 'Russia's cyber efforts against our election systems in 2016, our response efforts, potential threats to our 2018 and 2020 elections, and how we are postured to protect against those threats.' (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - JUNE 21: Acting Director of Homeland Security's Office of Intelligence and Analysis Cyber Division Sam Liles (L) and Homeland Security Undersecretary Jeanette Manfra (R) testify during a hearing before the Senate (Select) Intelligence Committee June 21, 2017 on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC. The committee held a hearing on 'Russia's cyber efforts against our election systems in 2016, our response efforts, potential threats to our 2018 and 2020 elections, and how we are postured to protect against those threats.' (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)
Jeanette Manfra, acting director of undersecretary, national protection and programs directorate at the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), speaks during a Senate Intelligence Committee hearing in Washington, D.C., U.S., on Wednesday, June 21, 2017. The U.S. Treasury Department imposed sanctions on more Russian companies and individuals as well as separatists in rebel-held areas of eastern Ukraine as President�Donald Trump�held White House talks with Ukrainian leader�Petro Poroshenko. Photographer: Eric Thayer/Bloomberg via Getty Images
Jeanette Manfra, acting director of undersecretary, national protection and programs directorate at the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), center, speaks while Bill Priestap, assistant director of counterintelligence for the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), right, and Samuel Liles, acting director of the cyber division with the office of intelligence and analysis department at the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), listen during a Senate Intelligence Committee hearing in Washington, D.C., U.S., on Wednesday, June 21, 2017. Senators on the Intelligence Committee pressed administration officials Wednesday to disclose more about the extent of Russian hacking attempts during last year's election after the government disclosed that 21 states had been targeted.Photographer: Eric Thayer/Bloomberg via Getty Images
HIDE CAPTION
SHOW CAPTION
of
SEE ALL
BACK TO SLIDE

In other words, Russia would have to unleash something more than "malign influence" on the elections, such as "trying to sway peoples' opinion or the way people might vote," an unnamed senior administration told reporters on a call on Wednesday, as cited by the CPI.

The report suggests that the US is further integrating cyberwarfare with its regular military strategies, and that its intelligence community is growing increasingly concerned with offensive cyberattacks on the US.

Russia has allegedly attempted to spread far-right propaganda on Facebook in an attempt to influence the midterms already.

Earlier this year, a Russian woman was accused of orchestrating a $35 million scheme to create thousands of fake social media and email accounts, in order to post divisive left- and right-wing memes and talking points on Facebook and Twitter.

Read more:'It's like playing whack-a-mole': A string of recent revelations paints a stark picture of Russia's ongoing campaign to meddle in the 2018 midterms 

The alleged plan was organized under an executive order signed by President Donald Trump earlier this year, which eases the rules on the deployment of digital weapons for national security.

It was designed to allow Defense Secretary Jams Mattis and Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats to approve retaliatory strikes without the approval of other government authorities, the CPI said. Most of the powers outlined in the executive order remain classified.

John Bolton, Trump's national security adviser, told reporters in September: "For any nation that’s taking cyberactivity against the United States, they should expect ... we will respond offensively as well as defensively."

NOW WATCH: Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales: There's going to be an 'enormous backlash' against Donald Trump's lies

See Also:

Read Full Story

Sign up for Breaking News by AOL to get the latest breaking news alerts and updates delivered straight to your inbox.

Subscribe to our other newsletters

Emails may offer personalized content or ads. Learn more. You may unsubscribe any time.