Adding fuel to the burning controversy among some Americans, and proclaimed by Donald Trump, that elections are “rigged,” the FBI has warned local election officials across the country to step up their defense against cyber hacking of election results. The FBI has uncovered evidence that hackers have gotten into at least two state election networks.
Earlier this month, the Cyber Division of the FBI issued an alert entitled “Targeting Activity Against State Board of Election Systems.” Fashioned at a low classification for “need to know recipients,” the alert noted that the FBI was looking into cyber attacks on two state election websites. One of the attacks resulted in the theft of voter registration data. The two attacks may be linked. The FBI is looking into whether the hackers plan further attacks on other election networks.
“The FBI is requesting that states contact their Board of Elections and determine if any similar activity to their logs, both inbound and outbound, has been detected,” the alert said. The bureau encouraged state officials to restrict users to have “only the bare minimum set of resources required to perform business tasks.”
Yahoo news cites sources that say that foreign hackers breached voter registration databases in Arizona and Illinois. Chicago, Illinois, is a bastion of Democrats where the mayor is former White House aide Rahm Emanuel. It is currently witnessing a tight race between incumbent US Senator Mark Kirk (R-IL) and Rep. Tammy Duckworth (D-IL), a popular Army veteran and advocate of veterans’ issues who is seeking to unseat Kirk. Arizona is also seeing a tight race between Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) and his Democrat rival.
In Illinois, the system had to be shut down for two months in July. The information of 200,000 was exposed by the hack in what is called an "exfiltration" of data.
On August 15, Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson conducted a call with state election officials on how to ensure the reliability of voting systems. He offered federal security experts to examine vulnerabilities. Johnson said that he is not aware of “specific or credible cyber security threats” to the elections now.
Other cyber attacks have kept the federal government busy with investigations. For example, the FBI is investigating hacks of emails at the Democratic National Committee.