Russian hackers may have hit 39 states during Trump election

Jane Richards
June 13, 2017

This comes after an Intercept report that said Moscow hacked at least one supplier of US voting software, and tried to phish the email accounts of 122 local election officials. The hacking reportedly anxious the Obama administration even more than the DNC hack and private campaign emails that were leaked to WikiLeaks.

One of the worst reported breaches was in IL, where hackers accessed a voter database containing personal identifiable information about some 15 million people. There is no evidence that the hackers tampered with the actual vote, and according to Bloomberg, the Obama administration really feared, at the time, that the hackers were more likely to delete voters from the rolls, or slow down vote tallying, which would undermine overall confidence in the USA electoral process without changing the final results. Hackers also accessed a campaign finance database in at least one state.

It builds on a NSA document leaked to The Intercept and made public last week that offered hard evidence that Russian meddling involved not only the strategic hacking and distribution of campaign communications, but efforts to interfere with America's election infrastructure.

What could be seen by outsiders as "deep vulnerabilities" in the U.S.'s voting technologies comes less than a week after former FBI Director James Comey warned Congress that the trouble with Russian Federation isn't over. During September's G-20 summit, Obama said he told Russian President Vladimir Putin to "knock off" the hacking attempts, but the leaks of Democratic National Committee emails continued, according to NBC News. "They will be back".

Obama even warned Putin that he risked setting off a "broader conflict", however, as the Russian State denies it ever happened, despite being given documentary evidence, the USA continues to be backed into a corner.

In early July 2016, a contractor who works two or three days a week at the state board of elections detected unauthorized data leaving the network, according to Ken Menzel, general counsel for the IL board of elections. In some cases, the attackers even gained access to state-level voter roll data, compromising records on as many as 90,000 voters. The hackers had no way of knowing that when they attacked the state database, Menzel said.

It amounts to 39 states targeted, three people with direct knowledge of the USA investigation have claimed, according to Bloomberg. The signatures were then sent through Homeland Security alerts and other means to every state.

It's unclear from the story whether the hackers changed or deleted any data.

US intelligence officials have cautioned that Russian interference continues, and that the 2018 and 2020 elections could very well be compromised by their efforts. In 2008, what started during the Cold War as a teletype messaging system became a secure system for transferring messages and documents over fiber-optic lines. Obama added that he risked setting off a "broader conflict".

Other reports by VgToday

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