Feds inform 21 states they were the target of Russian hackers during the 2016 election

Feds inform 21 states they were the target of Russian hackers during the 2016 election
Russian President Vladimir Putin speaks during an interview in Paris, France. Alexei Nikolsky/AP
Russian President Vladimir Putin speaks during an interview in Paris, France. Alexei Nikolsky/AP

On Friday, the federal government notified election officials in 21 states that they each were the target of potential hackers in the 2016 presidential election, the Associated Press reported.

According to NPR, the Department of Homeland Security had evidence of Russian hacker activity in said states several months ago, however, the department did not inform the states until today. Instead, NPR explained, the department told the owners of the election systems, some of which are privately held companies, about the potential breach.

“There was no successful intrusion and we immediately alerted the Federal Bureau of Investigation of the activities,” Washington Secretary of State Kim Wyman said in a statement.

Wisconsin also said its voter registration system was targeted, however that attempt was unsuccessful as well, according to authorities.

“This scanning had no impact on Wisconsin’s systems or the election,” Michael Haas, director of the Wisconsin Elections Commission, said in a statement. “Internet security provided by the state successfully protected our systems. Homeland Security specifically confirmed there was no breach or compromise of our data.”

Connecticut additionally came out to announce its state was targeted by the attempted hacking, however, that too was unsuccessful. Other states including Alabama, Colorado, Illinois, Maryland and Virginia all confirmed they were targets of an attempted attack to the Associated Press.

“The good news is that, for the most part, most of the things that we saw attempted in 2016 were just that, attempts,” Bob Kolasky, acting deputy under secretary for DHS’s National Protection and Programs Directorate, told NPR. “There was nothing that impacted the voting tallies, as we said before, and for the most part these attempts were not successful in any intrusions into systems.”

“Most,” however, isn’t a very comforting word in this story.

Hackers were indeed able to gain access to the records of thousands of voters in Illinois along with passwords and credential information of county election workers in Arizona, however, as NPR reported, there’s no evidence showing any information was deleted, changed or altered in any way.

For his part, President Donald Trump has always maintained that the Russian hacking story is a farce. As Mic reported, he has repeatedly denied his campaign has had any relationship to Russia, calling the investigation “the single greatest witch hunt of a politician in American history.” In February Trump noted, “Russia is a ruse. I have nothing to do with Russia.” However, as Mic further reported, Trump, his team members and administration have met with at least 12 different Russians since his campaign began.