Maricopa County election officials respond to Russian voting vendor hacking

The National Security Agency headquarters at Fort Meade Md
AFP Getty Images File The National Security Agency headquarters at Fort Meade Md
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08 June, 2017

In October, CNN reported that federal investigators thought Russian hackers had compromised an unnamed vendor of voting software that supplied technology for Florida's voting system. "It does upset me", she said.

The intelligence report revealed by The Intercept showed a cyberattack that targeted more than 100 local election officials and software vendors, raising the prospect of an attempt to manipulate votes.

He removed the classified material and then he handed it to online news report which hampered the secrecy of the organization.

The classified document was published by media on Monday afternoon, one hour before the Department of Justice announced the single charge against victor for "gathering, transmitting or losing defense information".

Yesterday's report from the Intercept, sourced from leaked top secret documents from the National Security Agency, is both shocking and unsurprising.

The five page document says VR Systems was hacked by someone opening a Microsoft document that allowed intruders to set up email accounts and contact the election vendor's clients. "Even the computers we scan the ballots on, that's a separate computer than what we tabulate the results on".

Greenhalgh added that "we need to ensure our voting systems are resilient going into 2018 and 2020" elections.

In a statement the Florida Division of Elections says the state's voting system is secure, largely due to efforts in decentralization, a strong paper trail, and efforts to keep the systems offline.

The Pasco elections supervisor said he was immediately suspicious when the email with an "updated user guide" as an attachment came into his inbox on October 31, 2016, eight days after early voting had begun in most Florida counties.

According to an AP analysis of the document's contents by University of MI computer scientist J. Alex Halderman, the actions taken by the Russian hackers could have theoretically enabled them to "steal" votes by directly targeting electronic voting machines.

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"We are only aware of a handful of our customers who actually received the fraudulent email and of those, we have no indication that any of them clicked on the attachment or were compromised as a result", the statement said.

The "bait" used in the spear-phishing campaign involved software for managing voter registration rolls. We regularly participate in cyber alliances with state officials and members of the law enforcement community in an effort to address these types of threats. Then, on October 31 or November 1, hackers sent emails to 122 email addresses associated with local governments from a fake address purporting to be VR Systems.

Humboldt County's Elections and Voter Registration offices are located at 2426 West Sixth Street in northern Eureka.

But the county Office of Elections had a contract with elections company Hart InterCivic, and Hart used VR Systems for its electronic poll books, the devices poll workers use to check in voters at the ballot.

"For over 15 years, I and a lot of other people have said we had never seen a confirmed hack of voting systems". But it suggests hackers got deeper into U.S. voting systems than previously believed.

Humboldt County's connection to VR Systems comes through the Texas-based company Hart InterCivic, Sanders said.

As recently as last week, Russian President Vladimir Putin has categorically denied Russian involvement in USA elections on a state level. He said Moscow categorically denies "the possibility" of the Russian government being behind it.

Attempts by Russian Federation to "break into a number of our state voting processes" was "broad-based", he said, without offering details.

"In no way did this have any effect on the counting of the ballots", she said. "But we work very hard and take great pride in the security that we have".


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