Former FBI director James Comey has confirmed that there were "hundreds" of attacks carried out by Russian hackers in the run-up to last year's presidential election.
During Thursday's testimony before the Senate Intelligence Committee, the former investigative bureau chief said that there was "no doubt" that Russian hackers were attempting to influence the outcome of the presidential election.
Since then, there were "hundreds" of cyber-intrusions prior to the election, said Comey. "I suppose it could be more than a thousand, but it's at least hundreds," he added.
Comey confirmed that the election meddling began as early as mid-2015 -- at around the time Donald Trump announced he was running for president.
"There was a massive effort to target government and nongovernmental agencies -- like nonprofits," said Comey in the hearing. Some of those attacks were also focused on the Democratic National Committee (DNC) campaign, in which hackers launched a successful spearphishing attack against senior officials for the Hillary Clinton campaign and released confidential emails and files through WikiLeaks.
Comey said he had "no doubt" that the Russian government was behind the DNC hack. But, he said, that the FBI never directly inspected DNC hardware following the attack. (A third-party security firm, thought to be CrowdStrike, is said to have carried out the forensics.)
It was one of many attacks launched against US targets, including one company -- VR Systems -- involved with voting infrastructure, which was this week confirmed following the release of a top-secret document.
Despite the attempt to influence the vote, Comey reiterated that he saw "no evidence" of Russian hacking efforts or cyberattacks directly manipulating or changing votes.
The former FBI director was ousted from his position in May by President Trump amid the agency's investigation into the president's team and potential links to Russia.