DHS Notifies 21 States Of Hacker Targeting; Election Officials Blame "Russian Government Cyber Actors"

It's Friday night and with stocks at record highs, Trump's approval ratings jumping to 4-month highs, and Mueller scraping the bottom of the barrel for anything to pin on anyone, the media has their red meat for the weekend now as DHS has notified 21 states Friday that their election systems were targeted before the 2016 election.

The government told The Associated Press last year that more than 20 states were targeted by hackers believed to be Russian agents before the 2016 elections. But for many states, the calls Friday from the Department of Homeland Security were the first official confirmation of whether their states were on the list.

DHS Spokesman Scott McConnell said in a written statement to The Hill...

"[R]ecognizing that state and local officials should be kept informed about cybersecurity risks to election infrastructure, we are working with them to refine our processes for sharing this information while protecting the integrity of investigations and the confidentiality of system owners."

"As part of our ongoing information sharing efforts, today DHS notified the Secretary of State or another chief election officer in each state of any potential targeting we were aware of in their state leading up to the 2016 election. We will continue to keep this information confidential and defer to each state whether it wishes to make it public or not.”

So the government did not release a list of what states were notified. However, as AP reports, after contacting every state election office on Friday...

While not all of them responded immediately, those that said they were targeted were Alabama, Arizona, Colorado, Connecticut, Illinois, Iowa, Maryland, Minnesota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Virginia, Washington and Wisconsin.

Federal officials said that in most of the 21 states, the targeting was preparatory activity such as scanning computer systems.

The targets included voter registration systems but not vote tallying software.

Officials said there were some attempts to compromise networks but most were unsuccessful.

The government did not say who was behind the hacking attempts or provide details about what had been sought.

But election officials in three states said Friday the attempts could be linked to Russia.

The Wisconsin Election Commission seem utterly convinced that the state's systems were targeted by "Russian government cyber actors."

Wisconsin Notified of Unsuccessful Russian Hacking Attempt


This afternoon, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security notified the Wisconsin Elections Commission for the first time that “Russian government cyber actors” unsuccessfully targeted the state’s voter registration system in 2016.


WEC Administrator Michael Haas has informed WEC Chair Mark Thomsen, who directed Commission staff to investigate why election officials were not notified earlier and report to the Commission at its meeting Tuesday.


“This scanning had no impact on Wisconsin’s systems or the election,” Haas said. “Internet security provided by the state successfully protected our systems.  Homeland Security specifically confirmed there was no breach or compromise of our data.”


Wisconsin is one of 21 states whose chief election officials were notified Friday by DHS officials that their systems were targeted by Russians, said Haas. DHS did not disclose which other states were notified, but said the states were free to disclose the information.


According to DHS, it appears that Internet-facing election infrastructure in Wisconsin was targeted by Russian government cyber actors. They scanned internet-connected election infrastructure likely seeking specific vulnerabilities such as access to voter registration databases, but the attempt to exploit vulnerabilities was unsuccessful.


Haas said the Commission is seeking more specific information, including when the scanning activity occurred in 2016.


The news that 21 states were targeted was first announced by DHS at a U.S. Senate Intelligence Committee hearing on June 21, 2017.  Coincidentally, Haas also testified at that hearing and said in response to questions that the Elections Commission had not been notified by DHS and concluded that Wisconsin was not one of the targeted states.

Which reads more like WI officials wanting to show off their security and pin the blame of Russians (when we know from what AP reported that no blame was asssigned, merely notification of targeting).

Colorado said the hacking wasn't quite a breach.

"It's really reconnaissance by a bad guy to try and figure out how we would break into your computer," said Trevor Timmons, a spokesman for the Colorado secretary of state's office.


"It's not an attack. I wouldn't call it a probe. It's not a breach, it's not a penetration."

Only Illinois reported that hackers had succeeded in breaching its voter systems.