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Posted: June 06, 2017

What is spear-phishing, Russia’s alleged voter hacking technique?

 (Photo by Sean Gallup/Getty Images)
Sean Gallup/Getty Images
 (Photo by Sean Gallup/Getty Images)

By Ben Brasch

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

A top-secret report leaked to a news outlet by a federal contractor in Augusta shows that Russia used a hacking technique called “spear-phishing” to interfere in the 2016 U.S. presidential election, according to that news outlet, The Intercept.

>> Read more trending news

Much is unknown about the first arrest of an accused leaker under President Donald Trump, who has chided the practice for months.

>> RELATED: What is The Intercept -- website that published leaked NSA report?

What is known is how Russia’s alleged cyberweapon of choice usually works.

Spear-phishing is a type of cyberattack, similar to phishing, but targeted toward a specific individual or entity, according to The Associated Press. It can be compared to phishing, a broader form of online fraud that aims to steal things like credit card numbers, Social Security numbers, user IDs and passwords.

Spear-phishing often uses email to get personal credentials such as login information or other sensitive materials.

>> RELATED: Federal contractor arrested for leaking ‘top secret’ Russia document

The NSA report that Reality Leigh Winner is accused of leaking to The Intercept claims that Russian military intelligence officials sent spear-phishing emails to more than 100 local voting officials in the days leading up to the election.


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