Jeanette Manfra, the Department of Homeland Security’s head of cybersecurity, said Wednesday that Russia “successfully penetrated” some voter rolls in 2016.
In an interview with NBC News, Manfra said the Kremlin targeted 21 states and “an exceptionally small number of them were actually successfully penetrated.” The department informed the states about the attempted hacks, including in Arizona, Illinois, Alabama, California, Colorado, Wisconsin and Florida, which have confirmed they were targeted.
But officials stressed that there’s no evidence the voter rolls were changed.
Officials said then that most of the targeting amounted to mere preparations for hacking, such as probing for vulnerabilities.
The targeting was part of a broader effort by Moscow to meddle in the presidential election, according to the U.S. intelligence community. The systems targeted were not involved in vote tallying.
The revelations have sparked widespread fears that Russia or another foreign actor could seek to interfere in future elections using cyberattacks and other tactics. (The Hill)
Former Department of Homeland Security Chief Jeh Johnson confirmed in 2016 that no hacking affected the ballot count in the 2016 election.
“We see no evidence that hacking by any actor altered the ballot count for any cyber actions that deprived people of voting,” Johnson said when asked if Russian hacking affected the election's outcome.
As the midterms come up, U.S. officials have no doubt Russia will try again.
"If it’s their intention to interfere, they are going to find ways to do that. We can take steps we can take but this is something that, once they decide they are going to do it, it’s very difficult to preempt it,” Secretary of State Rex Tillerson told Fox News. "I think it's important we just continue to say to Russia, ‘Look, you think we don't see what you're doing. We do see it and you need to stop. If you don't, you're going to just continue to invite consequences for yourself.'"