A new report is shedding some light on the depth of interference from Russia into the 2016 election. It extends far beyond just the hacking and WikiLeaks release of the DNC’s emails.
In Illinois, investigators found evidence that cyber intruders tried to delete or alter voter data. The hackers accessed software designed to be used by poll workers on Election Day, and in at least one state accessed a campaign finance database. Details of the wave of attacks, in the summer and fall of 2016, were provided by three people with direct knowledge of the U.S. investigation into the matter. In all, the Russian hackers hit systems in a total of 39 states, one of them said.
The scope and sophistication so concerned Obama administration officials that they took an unprecedented step — complaining directly to Moscow over a modern-day “red phone.” In October, two of the people said, the White House contacted the Kremlin on the back channel to offer detailed documents of what it said was Russia’s role in election meddling and to warn that the attacks risked setting off a broader conflict.
This is all part of the broader investigation into Russian interference that is ongoing, and includes investigating Trump’s campaign team as having possibly colluded with Russia.
While the collusion case seems to be rather flimsy and based on several factors.
One would be all the contacts there seemed to be between people within Trump’s circle and Russian officials.
The second would be Trump’s call to Russia to hack into Hillary Clinton’s emails.
He later claimed he wasn’t serious, but the cat was out of the bag, so to speak, and as usual, it appears Trump’s mouth got him in trouble.
One of the mysteries about the 2016 presidential election is why Russian intelligence, after gaining access to state and local systems, didn’t try to disrupt the vote. One possibility is that the American warning was effective. Another former senior U.S. official, who asked for anonymity to discuss the classified U.S. probe into pre-election hacking, said a more likely explanation is that several months of hacking failed to give the attackers the access they needed to master America’s disparate voting systems spread across more than 7,000 local jurisdictions.
Such operations need not change votes to be effective. In fact, the Obama administration believed that the Russians were possibly preparing to delete voter registration information or slow vote tallying in order to undermine confidence in the election. That effort went far beyond the carefully timed release of private communications by individuals and parties.
It was a contractor in Illinois that first noticed a problem with the network in July 2016.
While working with the state board of election, he noticed unauthorized date leaving the network. Names, genders, dates of birth, drivers’ licenses, partial Social Security numbers of around 15, million people were breached, with over 90,000 records affected.
Because of how the state processes online voter registration, it presented an opportunity for hackers to manipulate the data, thus eroding voter confidence in the system.
Using evidence from the Illinois computer banks, federal agents were able to develop digital “signatures” — among them, Internet Protocol addresses used by the attackers — to spot the hackers at work.
The signatures were then sent through Homeland Security alerts and other means to every state. Thirty-seven states reported finding traces of the hackers in various systems, according to one of the people familiar with the probe. In two others — Florida and California — those traces were found in systems run by a private contractor managing critical election systems.
It’s an ongoing process of deciphering information and recognizing the “fingerprints” of the hackers.
The fear is that they’ll have three and a half years to study and adapt their methods to our systems before the next election.
It’s an interesting look into just how deep the Russian tampering goes.
With 39 out of 50 states identified, we could be looking at years of investigation.