The FBI informed election officials throughout the country that foreign hackers penetrated one state election database and attempted to infiltrate another in recent weeks. They sent out warnings to election officials throughout the country.
The FBI “flash” alert from the FBI’s Cyber Division:
The alert, labeled as restricted for “NEED TO KNOW recipients,” disclosed that the bureau was investigating cyberintrusions against two state election websites this summer, including one that resulted in the “exfiltration,” or theft, of voter registration data. “It was an eye opener,” one senior law enforcement official said of the bureau’s discovery of the intrusions. “We believe it’s kind of serious, and we’re investigating.”
Illinois and Arizona are the two states hit by the foreign hack according to Yahoo sources. The possibility of foreign entities manipulating our elections is alarming.
U.S. intelligence officials are reportedly concerned about cyberintrusions, especially by Russian state-sponsored hackers intent on disrupting our elections.
DHS Secretary Jeh Johnson has allegedly become so concerned that on August 15th, he offered assistance to election officials to help make their voting systems more secure. Georgia and Pennsylvania declined the assistance and believe they have it under control.
At the time, Johnson said he was not aware of “specific or credible cybersecurity threats” to the election, officials said.
Three days later, however, the FBI Cyber Division issued the flash warning above, titled “Targeting Activity Against State Board of Election Systems.”
A senior law enforcement official said of the FBI’s discovery of the intrusions. “We believe it’s kind of serious, and we’re investigating.”
In the Illinois case, officials were forced to shut down the state’s voter registration system for 10 days in late July, after the hackers managed to download personal data on up to 200,000 state voters.
The Arizona attack was more limited, involving malicious software that was introduced into its voter registration system but no successful exfiltration of data, a state official said.
The FBI bulletin listed eight IP addresses that were sources of the two attacks.
“This is a big deal,” said Rich Barger, chief intelligence officer for ThreatConnect, a cybersecurity firm, who reviewed the FBI alert at the request of Yahoo News. “Two state election boards have been popped, and data has been taken. This certainly should be concerning to the common American voter.”
Barger noted that one of the IP addresses listed in the FBI alert has surfaced before in Russian criminal underground hacker forums.
The method of attack on one of the state election systems — including the types of tools used by the hackers to scan for vulnerabilities and exploit them — appears to resemble methods used in other suspected Russian state-sponsored cyberattacks, including one just this month on the World Anti-Doping Agency, Berger added.
The FBI did not respond to detailed questions about the alert, saying in a statement only that such bulletins are provided “to help systems administrators guard against the actions of persistent cyber criminals,” Yahoo reported.
Every government venture is subject to hacking. This is probably not unusual but we don’t know. In August of last year, Secretary of State John Kerry told “CBS Evening News” anchor Scott Pelley that “it is very likely” China and Russia are reading his emails — and that he drafts his correspondences accordingly.
The story out in the public domain, thanks to the media, is that Russia wants Donald Trump to win in November. At the same time, Wikileaks is planning a pre-election surprise aimed at Hillary Clinton. The media is attempting to tie Wikileaks to Vladimir Putin.
When the DNC computers were hacked and embarrassing emails were released, Hillary Clinton, the Democrats and the media said Russian intelligence services had hacked into DNC computers to help Donald Trump win the election. They successfully diverted the attention from the material that was released. The statements were based more on politics than any facts.
Even if domestic actors hacked into the DNC computers or the state voting databases, would our government tell us the truth?
If Russia is hacking our electronic voting machines, there is an answer for that — go back to hand-written ballots.