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Vulnerabilities / Threats

9/25/2017
04:45 PM
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After DHS Notice, 21 States Reveal They Were Targeted During Election

Election officials in swing states Florida, Ohio, and Pennsylvania among those who report Russian state-sponsored attackers targeted their systems.

The US Department of Homeland Security notified election officials in all 50 states on Friday, informing 21 that their states had been targeted by Russian state-sponsored cybercriminals during the 2016 election campaign, the Associated Press reported. 

There continued to be no evidence that any votes were changed, according to the DHS. Incidents in most states amounted to vulnerability scans. 

Although the DHS had previously stated that 21 states were targeted in such probes, the agency had not contacted the state election officials themselves until now. The DHS left it to state officials to decide whether or not to publicly release whether or not they had been targeted. Election officials in Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Illinois, Iowa, Maryland, Minnesota, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Texas, Virginia, Washington, and Wisconsin cofirmed for HuffPo and the Associated Press that they'd been told they were targeted.

"It's unacceptable that it took almost a year after the election to notify states that their elections systems were targeted, but I'm relieved that DHS has acted upon our numerous requests and is finally informing the top elections officials in all 21 affected states that Russian hackers tried to breach their systems in the run up to the 2016 election," Sen. Mark Warner (D-Va.), the top Democrat on the Senate Intelligence Committee, said in a statement.

"The delay by the DHS to notify the 21 states targeted by Russian hackers is significant," said Merike Kaeo, CTO of Farsight Security, Inc. in a statement. "Transparency and timely dissemination of information to affected parties is critical and a year seems like a long time for notifications. ... To ensure the future integrity of our election system, it is important that the DHS disclose the reason behind the notification delay and put the proper processes in place to ensure the delays won't happen again. Every security incident is a validation or improvement opportunity of incident response processes."

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Lepricon
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Lepricon,
User Rank: Apprentice
10/2/2017 | 7:11:06 PM
DHS reverses on at least one state
The irony is that they've already had to amend their statement:

"MADISON, Wis. (AP) — The U.S. Department of Homeland Security reversed course Tuesday and told Wisconsin officials that the Russian government did not scan the state's voter registration system."

 
Joe Stanganelli
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Joe Stanganelli,
User Rank: Ninja
9/30/2017 | 12:20:32 PM
Re: DHS is late
@Dr.T: Not to mention that DHS itself was reportedly found with its hands in the cookie jar hacking a state election system...
Joe Stanganelli
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Joe Stanganelli,
User Rank: Ninja
9/30/2017 | 12:19:32 PM
Re: Really? We're still pointing fingers at the Russians?
@jenshadus: Brian Krebs talks about the history of those very developments in his book, Spam Nation. Highly recommended read.
jenshadus
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jenshadus,
User Rank: Strategist
9/29/2017 | 7:27:34 AM
Re: Really? We're still pointing fingers at the Russians?
Excellent question.  At the price of bitcoin, think I'll forgo that avenue.  Cash will do nicely.  But it would be interesting to see the relationship of the use of gift cards and spam.  I do have an anonymous email, and I let that box get all the spam.  I safeguard my normal personal email and work email pretty carefully.
Joe Stanganelli
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Joe Stanganelli,
User Rank: Ninja
9/29/2017 | 4:28:40 AM
Re: Really? We're still pointing fingers at the Russians?
I wonder how the controls on gift card usage to fight back against the spam industry has impacted/is impacting this.

Also, don't forget bitcoin and altcoins as a method of anonymous payment.
jenshadus
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jenshadus,
User Rank: Strategist
9/28/2017 | 8:02:16 AM
Re: Really? We're still pointing fingers at the Russians?
Considering that anyone can buy a VPN anonymously, using a gift card that you can pay with cash, and then selecting a server from anywhere in the world, and from there buy access to another VPN using a server in another part of the world, a hacker can really objuscate the origin of the attack.  The jury is out on this one.  Media loves to follow the media.  Better yet,  the media are their own best fan.
Joe Stanganelli
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Joe Stanganelli,
User Rank: Ninja
9/27/2017 | 7:58:43 PM
Re: Really? We're still pointing fingers at the Russians?
FWIW, not entirely sure what NoKo's motive would have been to actually interfere (although poke around, maybe). Seems like an HRC administration would have continued the policy of patience.

But yes, points well taken.
Joe Stanganelli
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Joe Stanganelli,
User Rank: Ninja
9/27/2017 | 7:57:01 PM
Re: Really? We're still pointing fingers at the Russians?
> Maryland is notorious for sending people to vote in Virginia using fake ID's

Same with MA and NH, from what I understand (NH being much different, politically, from most of New England).

And yes, you're absolutely right that voting has enough hacks and problems with it -- low- and high-tech -- with or without foreign involvement.

As I observed a few years ago, electronic voting of any kind is not and has not ever been ready for prime time. enterprisenetworkingplanet.com/netsecur/hack-early-hack-often-the-perils-of-electronic-voting.html
Joe Stanganelli
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Joe Stanganelli,
User Rank: Ninja
9/27/2017 | 7:54:34 PM
Re: Really? We're still pointing fingers at the Russians?
@Dr. T: Absolutely. Reminds me of the forensics tracking that big Sony hack that was traced to North Korea...except other researchers eventually traced it to...Russia!

And even then, that location tracking may not have been accurate/the whole story. There seems to be little shortage of IP-masking tech if you know where to look (no pun intended).
Dr.T
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Dr.T,
User Rank: Ninja
9/27/2017 | 11:14:55 AM
Re: Really? We're still pointing fingers at the Russians?
IP trace does not mean a tinker's damn as those can be hidden, fudged quite easily I would agree, IP address can easily be spoofed. It is not a traceable entity, there needs to be other mechanisms to track the attackers.
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