12 months ago
The U.S. response to Russian influence operations in the 2016 election may not have been as weak as originally thought.
President Obama approved a covert operation to plant hidden cyberweapons inside Russian infrastructure as a response to the election hacking just before he left office, the Washington Post reports.
Publically, the United States response was criticized for being too light but a far more aggressive retaliation was planned in secret. Obama authorized an operation to deploy “the digital equivalent of bombs that could be detonated if the United States found itself in an escalating exchange with Moscow,” according to the Post.
Intelligence agencies selected targets they felt were “important to the adversary and that would cause them pain and discomfort if they were disrupted.” The NSA developed the cyberweapons, which are remotely triggered but need to be periodically “maintained.”
The operation took months to develop and was in the early stages when Obama left office, but it continued after Trump was sworn in. Under the rules of covert action, intelligence operations do not need re-approval so the deployment is likely still being implemented to be ready if Trump decides to act.