Security Of State Election Systems The Focus Of Dueling Capitol Hill Hearings

  • Security Of State Election Systems The Focus Of Dueling Capitol Hill Hearings

Security Of State Election Systems The Focus Of Dueling Capitol Hill Hearings

A sinister portrait of Russia's cyberattacks on the US emerged Wednesday as current and former USA officials told Congress Moscow stockpiled stolen information and selectively disseminated it during the 2016 presidential campaign to undermine the American political process.

Throughout the hearing, lawmakers indicated the need for swift action by the federal government to do more to work with state and local officials to better safeguard election infrastructure from cyberattacks. But, he added, the "scale and aggressiveness" was different this time, with the primary goal being to sow discord and aid the candidacy of Republican Donald Trump, the eventual victor.

But Liles said the intelligence community concluded that a variety of factors "made it likely that cyber manipulation of the U.S. election system created to change the outcome of the United States election would be detected". Johnson says he not aware of any information beyond what's been reported publicly and what the US intelligence community has gathered.

The Bloomberg article followed the leak of a National Security Agency report that Russian intelligence tried to hack a US election systems vendor last August. Previously, authorities have confirmed that foreign actors breached voter databases in both Arizona and IL, but media reports have previously indicated the scope was much greater.

Jeh Johnson, who led the Homeland Security Department until the end of the Obama administration, told the U.S. House of Representatives Intelligence Committee his department had issued warnings about hacking into voter registration databases.

"In 2016 the Russian government, at the direction of (President) Vladimir Putin himself, orchestrated cyberattacks on our nation for the goal of influencing our election - plain and simple", Johnson said.

Johnson described his discussions with state election officials about ensuring the integrity of the voting process.

"Some KGB captain just got promoted to four-star general", a Republican member of Congress chided Barack Obama's Secretary of Homeland Security Wednesday, congratulating the Russian government for successfully hacking into the 2016 presidential election while misremembering that the dreaded Komitet Gosudarstvennoy Bezopasnosti was disbanded in 1991.

"We have evidence of election-related systems in 21 states that were targeted", said Jeanette Manfra, acting deputy undersecretary for cybersecurity and communications at the DHS's National Protection and Programs Directorate.

"The FBI and the DNC had been in contact with each other months before about the intrusion", he said.

Bill Priestap, Assistant Director of Counterintelligence Division at the Federal Bureau of Investigation, noted that, while the Kremlin has engaged in influence operations since the Cold War era, its 2016 efforts were "its boldest to date in the United States", and included "a multi-faceted approach meant to undermine confidence in our democratic process".

Mr. Johnson added speculation to the ongoing scrutiny of fired FBI Director James B. Comey when he questioned the time delay between when the DNC and FBI first discussed Russian hacking - and when his department finally learned of the breach. Special counsel Robert Mueller is conducting an inquiry into possible collusion between the Trump campaign and Russian officials.

U.S. intelligence agencies have concluded that the Kremlin orchestrated a wide-ranging influence operation that included email hacking and online propaganda to discredit Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton and help Trump, a Republican, win the White House in November.

"As summer 2016 progressed, my concerns about the possibility of a cyberattack around our national election grew", he added, detailing how DHS came up with a plan to designate election systems as specially protected "critical infrastructure" on par with dams and transportation systems.

Wednesday is another big day of testimony before two Congressional committees investigating Russian attempts to influence the 2016 Presidential election. State and local election officials were upset to learn about the Russian spear-phishing campaign detailed in the NSA report from media accounts, not from federal intelligence agencies.

Jeannette Manfra, the DHS official who disclosed the numbers, declined to name which states had been targeted to protect their confidentiality, though she says the managers of the various threatened systems have been alerted.

Election officials insist this is a highly unlikely scenario, and that they have multiple layers of security in place to detect and prevent unauthorized intrusions.

He also confirmed that while Russian Federation, at the direction of President Vladimir Putin, orchestrated cyberattacks on the United States to influence the 2016 presidential election, Moscow was unable to actually alter ballots. Elections are also subject to rigorous and elaborate rules that govern how and what equipment is used.