Russian general bragged about cyber warfare to destabilize other nations

Russian hacking fears

A serious threat against the electoral system may be Russian hackers.

Two years ago, top Russian General Valery Gerasimov -- who has president Vladimir Putin’s ear -- called for a new kind of warfare.

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Russian President Vladimir Putin, right, speaks with Chief of the General Staff of the Russian Armed Forces Valery Gerasimov at a meeting with top military officials in the National Defense Control Center in Moscow, Russia, Friday, Dec. 11, 2015.  AP

In a military journal, Gerasimov wrote of using covert and propaganda tactics to turn a “perfectly thriving state” into a victim of “foreign intervention” causing it to “sink into a web of chaos.”

Adam Meyers -- the head of intelligence for the cyber security firm Crowdstrike -- said Gerasimov’s doctrine is behind the recent hacks of election databases and the Democratic National Committee.

“...Imagine if, on election night, reports come out that cause people to think that the results of the election are questionable,” said Meyers. 

Arizona official shocked at hacking attempt into voter database

Meyers and U.S. government officials fear that’s exactly what the Russians will try to do.

“All they need to do is call into question the results that come back from one district, one state. And that might cause such a reaction that they call for a complete recount,” said Meyers. 

Helen Purcell -- the elections recorder for Maricopa County, Arizona -- said an easy way to stop the hackers, is to keep the voting machines offline.

“We use paper ballots, so even on our touch screen machines, you have a tape of everything that happens on that machine so that can be verified later,” Purcell said. 

U.S. Officials have accused the Russians of using similar tactics in other countries, including Ukraine during its 2014 presidential election. 

While the Russians have denied the allegations, CBS News is told President Obama is considering retaliating with sanctions or a cyber attack.