NBC is reporting that the Intelligence Community developed substantial evidence that Russian financed attackers compromised the voter registration systems or web sites of seven states to different degrees.
Up until this time DHS has been completely mum about this, saying absolutely nothing.
But now NBC is reporting that the seven states are Alaska, Arizona, California, Florida, Illinois, Texas and Wisconsin.
The officials say that the systems were compromised in different ways and to different degrees.
Those state and federal officials that spoke to NBC claimed that no votes were changed and no voters taken off the voter rolls. They did not, however, provide any evidence to support those claims, so I guess we should trust them. After all, why would they lie?
After NBC broadcast the story, the Homeland Security acting spin doctor Tyler Houlton said the reporting is not accurate and is actively undermining efforts of the Department of Homeland Security to work in close partnership with state and local governments to protect the nation’s election systems from foreign actors. He did not say what about it was inaccurate. Did he mean that there were only 6 states? OR, that there were 9 states? We don’t know.
He also said, via Twitter, that DHS has no intelligence that corroborates NBC’s reporting.
Today, Michael Daniel, top cyber security official at the end of the Obama administration, basically corroborated the NBC reports.
Perhaps DHS is telling the truth. As the states have complained for a year now, DHS is not sharing any information with them. Maybe the intelligence community is not sharing information with DHS. If that is the case, both NBC and DHS could be telling the truth.
Regarding the statement that reporting is undermining the efforts to keep us safe, I have a couple of thoughts.
First, it may be useful to not telegraph how much we know to the Ruskies. Up until now, the only state that we knew had been hacked was Illinois. Now they know that we know that there are at least seven states. They can compare this to the list of states that they did hack and say, maybe, “wow, we got away undetected 50% of them time”.
But from a different standpoint, don’t the American people deserve to know the extent of Russian meddling in our elections?
For those of you who are cynical, you may draw a correlation between the current administration’s repeated efforts to “believe” Putin and disbelieve our own intelligence community and an effort by DHS to withhold information on the degree of Russian hacking.
Is this related, also, to the fact that until last week (when they appointed a committee to look into it) the Justice Department was not doing anything at all to deal with the Russian hacking?
And, is this related to the comment that soon-to-retire Admiral Mike Rogers, head of the NSA and of Cyber Command’s made before Congress that the White House has not asked them to do anything to stop Russian election hacking?
I don’t know the answer, so you are going to have to draw your own conclusions. However, given the amount of smoke around this subject, there likely is a really, really, big fire.
Information for this post came from NBC News.