Half of US State Election Boards Attacked, 4 Breached by Russia
Russian hackers are ramping up their offensive on US voting databases ahead of the presidential election, with nearly half of all states reporting attacks.
More than 20 state election boards have reported incidents, according to NBC News sources. Four of those systems have successfully been breached, sources told ABC News. Multiple sources in law enforcement have confirmed the situation to other media outlets as well.
The FBI has verified attempted hacks of voter registration sites in more than a dozen states according to two law enforcement officials speaking to CNN. It reported that Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson also said 18 states have requested cyber-assistance from his department for voting systems.
"There have been a variety of scanning activities which is a preamble for potential intrusion activities as well as some attempted intrusions at voter database registrations beyond those we knew about in July and August,” FBI Director James Comey said at a House Judiciary Committee hearing this week. “We are urging the states just to make sure that their deadbolts are thrown and their locks are on and to get the best information they can from DHS just to make sure their systems are secure. Because there's no doubt that some bad actors have been poking around."
The FBI sent a warning to states in June, following two successful intrusions into voter registration databases in Illinois and Arizona.
The hacks have been aimed at voter registration databases, which contain potentially lucrative personal information on citizens that could be sold on the Dark Web. US officials have downplayed the hacks’ potential to sway an election, reiterating that the actual voting systems that will be used to cast ballots in November are not connected to the internet and are decentralized, meaning that a coordinated hacking effort would be nearly impossible. But the relentless attacks could be aimed at sowing the seeds of distrust in the system ahead of the election.
California Sen. Dianne Feinstein and California Rep. Adam Schiff, the ranking members on the Senate and House Intelligence Committees, respectively, released a joint statement blaming Russian President Vladimir Putin and the Russian government for attempting to influence the process.
"Based on briefings we have received, we have concluded that the Russian intelligence agencies are making a serious and concerted effort to influence the US election," they wrote.
Asked this summer why Russia might be trying to undermine the US political process, Director of National Intelligence James Clapper said Russian President Vladimir Putin is "paranoid" about the potential for revolutions in Russia, "and of course they see a US conspiracy behind every bush, and ascribe far more impact than we’re actually guilty of."
The news comes just days after FBI asked to examine the cell phones of a small number Democratic Party staffers for evidence of hacking. Sources told CNN that law enforcement is looking for malware, and are assessing whether targeting staffers is part of the original breach of Democratic National Committee emails or something new.
"Our struggle with the Russian hackers that we announced in June is ongoing—as we knew it would be—and we are choosing not to provide general updates unless personal data or other sensitive information has been accessed or stolen," interim DNC Chairwoman Donna Brazile told CNN.
For months, the FBI has been investigating what appear to be coordinated cyberattacks on Democratic organizations—the most damaging so far being the hack of the Democratic National Committee, which presidential hopeful Hillary Clinton argued was carried out in order to provide leverage to the campaign of GOP rival Donald Trump.
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Source: Information Security Magazine