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.

Dark Reading Staff, Dark Reading

September 26, 2017

2 Min Read

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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Dark Reading Staff

Dark Reading

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