Russian Hacking In U.S. Election Update

2016 U.S. Election Had 21 States Targeted By Russian Hackers, U.S. Officials Reveal

Critical questions revolving around Russian hacking in the 2016 U.S. election were addressed on Tuesday and Wednesday at a hearing with the Senate Intelligence Committee. U.S. officials backed up reports that numerous states were targeted by the Russians during the presidential election.

Washington Post reports that Jeanatte Manfra, acting deputy undersecretary of cybersecurity at the Department of Homeland Security, informed Congress that that hackers targeted 21 states in the election, but didn’t identify which states due to confidentiality agreements. She did underscore that the Russians were unable to manipulate voter ballots.

Arizona and Illinois have confirmed that Russian hackers had targeted their voter registration systems in an attempt to access data.

Samuel Liles, the Department of Homeland Security’s acting director of the Office of Intelligence and Analysis Cyber Division, told the Senate Committee that voter ballot mechanisms weren’t impacted in the attempted interference. He said it appeared as though hackers working on behalf of the Russian government were “scanning for vulnerabilities” in the U.S. election. Liles described the act like someone who might be “walking down the street and looking at homes to see who might be inside.”

Liles went on to say that hackers exploited a “small number” of networks using the example that it’s would be like someone “making it through a home’s front door.”

Former Department of Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson House testified on the committee Tuesday that Russia’s interference was “unprecedented, the scale and the scope of what we saw them doing.”

FBI Assistant Director of Counterintelligence Bill Priestap testified Wednesday that Russians created fake news reports and propaganda that was spread online. He continued that Russia has been determined for years to influence U.S. elections, but the “scale” and “aggressiveness” of their organized efforts in 2016 was the most severe. The internet has enabled Russia to be more successful in their nefarious pursuits and that their goal in 2016 was to “sow discord” in the U.S. and to “denigrate” Clinton while helping Trump be elected as president.

Former FBI Director James Comey emphatically testified during his testimony that Russian hacking most certainly did exist during the 2016 U.S. election. He asserted that the hacking was done with purpose, technological efficiency, and precision. He said it was present without a doubt and that the Russians are coming for the U.S.

Bloomberg reported earlier this month that as many as 39 states were targeted in the Russian hacking. A classified document obtained by The Intercept read that Russian intelligence “executed a cyberattack on at least one U.S. voting software supplier and sent spear-phishing emails to more than 100 local election officials just days before last November’s presidential election.”

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