The US Government recently confirmed that Russian hackers tried to overthrow the electoral systems of 21 different states.
The United States’ Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has confirmed this past week that Russian hackers attempted to attack the election systems of 21 targeted states during the 2016 elections. These states include California, Florida, Ohio, and Wisconsin. At the time, DHS did notify involved states but has confirmed this publicly, until now.
The announcement was made 10 months after Election Day.
According to DHS spokesperson Scott McConnell, this information forms part of their information sharing efforts. The DHS did notify the Secretary of State, as well as the chief election officer in affected states, during this time. However, McConnell continues to say that the DHS will still continue keeping the information confidential, it is up to the state itself whether they choose to make it public or not.
Reuters confirmed that some of the states targeted are Alabama, Alaska, Colorado, Connecticut, Florida, Minnesota, Texas, and Washington. In addition, the Associated Press confirmed that Illinois, Iowa, Maryland, North Dakota, Pennsylvania, Delaware, Oregon, Oklahoma, and Virginia, were also affected. However, the hacks have not been successful.
Most electoral chiefs in affected states were not even aware of hacking attempts until the DHS notified them.
According to the DHS, the hackers performed only preliminary hacking techniques like scanning computers. A very small number of networks have actually been compromised. Judd Choate, president of the National Association of State Election Directors confirmed that currently there is no evidence that Russia managed to actually alter votes or change registration.
Early this year, US Intelligence services exposed Russian president, Vladimir Putin, with ordering an “influence campaign” This campaign involved cyber attacks, disinformation campaigns, and several leaks in order to undermine American political stability. This was ordered to influence voters in Donald Trump’s favor.
So far, the Kremlin has denied and dismissed any allegations involving their involvement in the DNC hack. Congressional committees are currently engaged in investigations as to whether or not Trump had any aid from Russia in his electoral campaign. There have also been allegations against Trump for colluding with Russia.
So far Trump has denounced the investigations as everything from a “witch-hunt”, “hoax”, and “fake news”.
Several legal experts have criticized the DHS for taking so long to notify states involved in the election hacks.
Secretary of State, Alex Padilla, said in a statement that the DHS’s slowness in notifying the states is unacceptable. States should have been notified immediately so they could have taken extra precautions. By withholding important information from the states, the DHS could have endangered the American voting system.
Unacceptably delayed, but relieved this is finally happening after months of pushing. We have to do better in the future. https://t.co/CDebA0THQs
— Mark Warner (@MarkWarner) September 22, 2017
Several other lawmakers in Congress have joined in criticizing the DHS’s decision to withhold important information, including Senator Mark Warren, who is currently serving on a committee dedicated to investigating allegations of Russian involvement in the 2016 elections.