Hackers have attempted to enter election systems in at least 20 states. NBC News published this scoop last night:
The “attempted intrusions” targeted online systems like registration databases, and not the actual voting or tabulation machines that will be used on Election Day and are not tied to the Internet.
The DHS official described much of the activity as “people poking at the systems to see if they are vulnerable.”
“We are absolutely concerned,” the DHS official said. “The concern is the ability to cause confusion and chaos.”
Last month the FBI revealed that hackers had gained access to election system in two states, Illinois and Arizona. At the time the suggestion was that the hackers were Russian but it was not clear if those attempts were state-sponsored, as opposed to hackers looking to gather personal information they could sell on the black market.
We already know the FBI is investigating hacks at the DNC, the DCCC, the Clinton Foundation and even talking to individual Democratic officials whose phones may have been hacked. Given all of this election related activity tied to Russia it makes sense to think the probing of state elections systems is connected as well.
NBC reports that NSA Director Michael Rogers told congressional intelligence committees, “We believe potential adversaries might be leaving cyber fingerprints on our critical infrastructure partly to convey a message that our homeland is at risk if tensions ever escalate toward military conflict.”
That sounds a like a threat, i.e. ‘Be a shame if something happened to that democracy of yours.’ What exactly are we doing about it? The FBI has said it is trying to build a legal case against the hackers but that seems unlikely to accomplish much.
FBI Director Comey did suggest earlier this month that the U.S. could respond in other ways saying, “Just because you can’t see something doesn’t mean we’re not trying to change behavior.” But he didn’t elaborate on what that meant.