Russian “Probing” on 21 States Electoral System – Espionage or Sabotage?
September 22- news broke about another illegal intrusion that has allegedly affected 21 states. The Federal Government stated that the “hactivity” had manifested even before last year’s presidential election, within incumbent president Barrack Obama’s term- and he did absolutely nothing to avoid the Russian meddling.
The alert was released roughly after a year when US Department of Homeland Security officials proclaimed that the hacking antics might have a connection to Russia in an attempt to have the election process put under “surveillance.”
The states Florida, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Virginia, and Wisconsin- all political battleground states, informed The Associated Press that they had been the subjects of illegal election manipulation.
The Associated Press immediately reached out to every state election office to determine which states received the forewarning about the attack. Alabama, Arizona, Alaska, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Illinois, Iowa, Maryland, Minnesota, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Oregon, Texas, and Washington all confirmed about this incident.
Let’s debunk the hacking myth; being “targeted” does not mean that there was any compromise of sensitive voter data or that the results were altered to favor any candidate. Though this might not directly affect the tally, critics raised ethical questions as to why Obama did not do anything to stop it, or why the then-president never recognized the fact that the electoral system had been hijacked multiple times before.
Are we content to have such feeble electoral system, so insecure that our enemies can break into at any time?
California Secretary of State Alex Padilla, a Democrat, expressed his disappointment over the insufficient security, “It is entirely unacceptable that it has taken DHS over a year to inform our office of Russian scanning of our systems, despite our repeated requests for information.”
“The practice of withholding critical information from elections officials is a detriment to the security of our elections and our democracy,” Padilla added.
Claiming that states need to know about the nefarious activity in real time to strengthen their cyber defenses, US. Sen. Mark Warner of Virginia demanded the department for months to reveal the names of the targeted states. Warner, the instigator who wants to expedite the reveal, is a top Democrat on a committee investigating Russia’s “prying” in last year’s election.
Galvanized by the meddling antics from another influential country, this does not look like some normal attack that can be rectified and eschewed. “We have to do better in the future,” Warner encouraged.
Agreeing to Wagner’s proposition, the Homeland Security recognizes that the state and its local officials be informed about cybersecurity threats to election scheme.
Homeland Security responded, “We are working with them to refine our processes for sharing this information while protecting the integrity of investigations and the confidentiality of system owners.”
However, while some speculate that Russia waged the prying attack, the government did not give any statement behind the hacking attempts, leaving no room for conjectures against Putin’s administration.
On the other hand, the Wisconsin Election Commission stated that their state’s system was the target by the “Russian government cyber actors.” Josie Bahnke, Alaska Elections Division Director said, “that computers located in Russia were scanning election systems through pinpointing vulnerabilities.”
Spokeswoman of Indiana Secretary of State, National Association of Secretaries of State President Connie Lawson requested a list of states whose systems had hacking efforts observed. Federal officials reported that most of the 21 states victimized by the targeting exhibited traits of what seems to be a preparatory activity, which consists of scanning computer systems and looking for points of entry.
The targets were directed to the voter registration systems but did not penetrate any of the voter tallying software.
Illinois, the only state which reported that hackers succeeded in breaching the state’s voter systems.
Trevor Timmons, a spokesman for the Colorado secretary of state’s office, said “It’s not an attack. I wouldn’t call it a probe. It’s not a breach; it’s not penetration.” Which left the authorities questioning what could be the reason behind such activity.
Earlier in 2017, a leaked National Security Agency report pointed out the culprit. The hacktivists were able to extract information from a company which provides software to manage voter registration. It affected eight states.
Meanwhile, May report divulged that hackers have sent phishing emails to 122 local election officials beforehand the November 2015 elections, looking for loopholes to break into systems.
A special counsel is now investigating if there has been a conspiracy agreement between Donald Trump supporters and Russia, to give Trump an advantage in the polls and the election.
Being caught under public scrutiny, Donald Trump who defeated Hillary Clinton and is now the sitting President of the United States has called the Russia cyber penetration attempt a hoax.
Trump claims that Russian President Vladimir Putin “vehemently denied” the conclusions of a multitude of American intelligence agencies, making this matter a lot ambiguous.
PEARSON, GEOFF MULVIHILL and JAKE. “Federal Government Notifies 21 States of Election Hacking.” AP News, Associated Press, 23 Sept. 2017, www.apnews.com/cb8a753a9b0948589cc372a3c037a567