Russian hackers successfully compromised a Florida county’s election system in 2016, according to a New York Times report. Senator Marco Rubio, a Republican from Florida, confirmed to NYT information that was included in Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s report on his investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 election. Specifically, the report detailed a case in which Russians pushed malicious software to government officials in Florida.
Besides his role as a senator in Florida, Rubio was also speaking from his capacity as a member of the Senate Intelligence Committee.
Rather than notifying the individual targets of the attack, national security officials, at the time, instead chose to distribute a blanket warning about hacking efforts. According to Rubio, this approach was taken in order to avoid compromising the intelligence methods which were in place to identify the threat in the first place.
“Everybody has been told what it is they need to do to protect themselves from the intrusion,” he said. “I don’t believe the specific victims of the intrusion have been notified. The concern was that in a number of counties across the country, there are a couple of people with the attitude of: ‘We’ve got this; we don’t need your help. We don’t think we need to do what you are telling us we need to do.'”
Rubio also pointed out that, as far as he and other officials know, the hackers were in a position to adjust voting rolls, but do not appear to have done so. The danger in such a case, he says, is that hackers could delete or otherwise alter voter data, causing confusion on election day as voters and election officials attempt to deal with missing, mismatched, or otherwise compromised registration data.
In addition to Rubio, a number of other elected officials in Florida have been working to address the concern and communicate the issue to the public. Fellow Republican Senator Rick Scott confirmed through a spokesperson that Scott was working with the FBI to address attacks detailed in the Mueller report, along with Florida Governor Ron DeSantis.
In addition, Rubio was joined by former Senator Bill Nelson, a Democrat, requesting that Florida election officials seek federal aid in securing Florida’s election systems.
DeSantis has also expressed frustration about a lack of transparency with Florida leadership when it comes to the details of the hacking.
“They won’t tell us which county it was. Are you kidding me?” he said on Thursday. “Why would you have not said something immediately?”