Clarity needed on Russian efforts in Florida to influence election

While those efforts apparently were unsuccessful in Florida, state and local elections officials should redouble their security efforts and government at every level should be more open about the extent and nature of foreign attempts to interfere with USA elections.

RALEIGH, N.C. - Officials in some states are trying to figure out whether local election offices were targeted in an apparent effort by Russian military intelligence to hack into election software last fall.

A National Security Agency report published by the website The Intercept said Russian military intelligence executed a cyberattack on at least one US supplier of voting software and sent deceptive emails to more than 100 local election officials in the days leading up to the November election.

Election officials have long contended that the highly decentralized, often ramshackle US voting system is its own best defense against vote-rigging and sabotage. Last week alone, Russian President Vladimir Putin denied that Russia had interfered in foreign elections saying "We never engaged in that on a state level, and have no intention of doing so".

Homeland Security says it believes Russian Federation targeted voter registration systems too and IL was the worst hit state. Some U.S. states are reviewing their election systems for signs of intrusion after a leaked NSA report describes a hacking effort by Russian military intelligence. So the computer systems and protocols appear to have worked for now.




The supplier, identified by the website as VR Systems of Tallahassee, contacted Florida counties it serves a year ago with guidance on what to do if they received the suspicious email from "vr.elections@gmail.com".

Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker's administration said the spikes in April 2016 and November were "spread across all of our servers", including - but not limited to - election systems.

Jeanne Atkins, who was OR secretary of state during the election, said Homeland Security tested the state's voter registration database, which is connected to the internet.

The Department of Homeland Security knew in September that hackers believed to be Russian agents had targeted voter registration systems in more than 20 states. The Miami Herald reported Wednesday that officials in at least five Florida counties received the malicious emails described in the NSA report. Still, her office was contacting county boards about potential breaches. To date, no evidence of tampering with vote tallies or registration rolls has emerged. In a statement, the company said it only knows of a "handful" of customers who received the fraudulent email, adding that it had "no indication" that anyone had clicked on the malware. Only one county in IL used this software, according to WGN.

Wisconsin reported a spike in attempts to break into state computer systems just before the state's primary and general elections previous year, according to records obtained by USA TODAY NETWORK - Wisconsin.

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