U.S. Cyber Command logoThe disruption to the Internet Research Agency's networks took place as Americans went to the polls and a day or so afterward - as the votes were tallied, to prevent the Russians from mounting a disinformation campaign that casts doubt on the results, according to officials.
"They basically took the IRA offline, " according to one individual familiar with the matter who, like others, spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss classified information. "The fact that the 2018 election process moved forward without successful Russian intervention was not a coincidence", Rounds stated, adding that without the efforts of Cyber Command, there "would have been some very serious cyber-incursions". "They shut 'em down".
For those who came in late, the Internet Research Agency is funded by Russian oligarch Yevgeny Prigozhin, a Kremlin fixer known by the nickname "Putin's Chef". Founded in 2009, it shares a headquarters and leadership with the National Security Agency, the main USA signals intelligence agency.
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Russian internet trolls meddled in the 2016 election by using social networking platforms including Facebook and Twitter to spread misinformation and sow discord, the USA intelligence community previously concluded.
In September, the White House gave the military the authority to launch offensive cyber attacks on foreign adversaries meddling in USA affairs.
Many government agencies feared the same thing would happen again in the 2018 elections.