A U.S. official has now revealed that several states had in fact been successfully hacked by unknown individuals working for the Russian government. Jeanette Manfra, head of cybersecurity at the Department of Homeland Security, revealed in an interview with NBC News that 21 states in total were being targeted by the hackers prior to the 2016 presidential elections. Manfra also clarified that not all of the targeted states were penetrated. When asked about which particular states had comprised voting systems, Manfra denied answering the question saying that the information is currently still classified.
In a separate interview with Jeh Johnson, then secretary for the DHS during the 2016 presidential election, it was revealed that Russian hackers were able to successfully access several voter registration databases. However, Johnson stated that they currently have no evidence to suggest that any of the data on the servers were altered or manipulated. Both officials do agree on one thing, the source of the intrusions was coming from the Russian government.
“We were able to determine that the scanning and probing of voter registration databases was coming from the Russian government.”
Following the recent revelation of the Russian hacks during the 2016 elections, the DHS had apparently started urging the affected states to ramp up their cybersecurity. Some states have expressed their unwillingness to cooperate with the federal agencies, with some even viewing the DHS’s actions as an outright federal intrusion.
Other states who sought out federal assistance to bolster their election system’s cybersecurity mentioned that they are apparently still waiting for help from the federal government. Some have complained that the agencies have not been forthcoming with sharing information regarding the attacks and that state officials currently don’t have the proper clearances. Confronted with the complaints by NBC, Manfra explained that they are already processing the clearances for the state officials and that the DHS will eventually contact the states involved as soon as possible.
CIA Director Mike Pompeo mentioned earlier this month in an interview with BBC that his agency expects the Russians to do more of the same types of attacks in the upcoming 2018 midterm elections. However, Pompeo explained that they will be prepared this time and that he is confident that the agency will be able to push back any intrusions to the point where the attacks will not significantly impact the country’s upcoming free election.