DHS Says Russians Penetrated US Voter Systems in 2016

While the head of cybersecurity at DHS said the details of which states were compromised is classified, she admitted that 21 states were targeted during the 2016 elections and that some of them were penetrated.

Former DHS Secretary Jeh Johnson said 2016 was a wakeup call and now it is up to the government(s) to do something about it.

Even though the President isn’t quite sure of it, DHS says that the Russian government was behind the attacks,

The good news is that there is no EVIDENCE that the voter rolls in those states that the Russians were successful at hacking were changed.

Many people think the 2016 election attacks were merely a test.  That test will likely continue in 2018 with plans to take more aggressive action for the 2020 presidential elections.

Even though Secretary Johnson designated the states’ voting systems critical infrastructure before he left office over a year ago, he says that the states have done little to nothing to actually harden the systems.

The head of DHS cybersecurity disagreed with Secretary Johnson.  She said that the states have taken it seriously.

I am not quite sure that her statement in any way, shape or form conflicts with Secretary Johnson’s statement that the states haven’t actually done anything about it.  You could certainly take the threat seriously and not do anything about it.

The National Association of Secretaries of State say that they are only aware of one state that was hacked.  Depending on your level of cynicism, you could say that means that they are ignorant, either intentionally or unintentionally or are being willfully blind.  Alternatively, you could say that DHS doesn’t know what they are doing.  Since DHS doesn’t seem inclined to provide us with any data, the reader is left to draw his or her own conclusion with regard to what really happened.

In the states’ defense that they don’t know, many of the states complained that DHS wouldn’t share details of the attacks with them, supporting their assertion that they don’t know about the attacks.  DHS says they don’t have clearances to access the classified data.

And, with a level of speed that would make a snail proud, DHS says that now, two years later, they are processing the clearances.  Since it often takes a year to get a clearance, depending on the level of clearance, it is certainly possible that the 2018 midterm elections will be long over before the states see the data and for sure, the window to fix anything will definitely be long over.

Other states are saying they are waiting for DHS to help them (I assume that help from DHS is free;  if they were really concerned they would pay someone to help them).  DHS says there is no waiting list for help and DHS “will get to everyone”.  When they will get to everyone they didn’t say.

How, exactly, the public is supposed to figure out the truth here is completely non-obvious to me.

Some states objected to the feds designating their voting systems as critical infrastructure, preferring, instead, to put their egos ahead of their citizens.  Secretary Johnson pulled even fewer punches saying that the Secretaries that were objecting were being naive and irresponsible to the people they are supposed to serve.  He is not likely to be getting a Christmas card from any of the Secretaries of State next year.

Rex Tillerson, the current U.S. Secretary of State says that the Russians are already meddling in the 2 018 election, a statement that likely puts him at odds with the Oval Office.

Given all of the above, it seems likely that the Russians will continue to successfully meddle in the U.S. election process this year and that the states will have made only minor progress to protect themselves.

Information for this post came from NBC News.

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