Earlier this week The Intercept published a report that seemingly revealed Russian efforts to tamper with the US election and voting infrastructure.

The report hinged on documents that were leaked from the National Security Agency (NSA) in the US. The Intercept approached the NSA to verify the authenticity of the documents and in doing so, unwittingly revealed its source.

To be fair it wasn’t that The Intercept had included the name of the leaker but rather that the documents it submitted for review contained secret watermarks that pointed to when the documents had been printed and the printer that was used.

Using a tool created by the Electronic Frontier Foundation and armed with the document Ars Technica was able to determine that the document was printed on 9th May 2017 at 6:20am from a Xerox Docucolor printer.

Armed with the leaked documents, and the secret code the NSA investigated and through a process of elimination identified the leaker as 25 year old Reality Leigh Winner. Winner is a contractor for Pluribus International and during the NSA’s investigation, was found to have contacted The Intercept using her work email.

According to Winner’s arrest warrant, the contractor admitted to sharing classified information, removing the information from her office and sharing information that could cause injury to the USA.

[Image – CC0 Public Domain Pixabay]


Brendyn Lotz writes news, reviews, and opinion pieces for Hypertext. His interests include SMEs, innovation on the African continent, cybersecurity, blockchain, games, geek culture and YouTube.