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Russian hackers breached voting systems in 39 states

Russian hackers breached voting systems in 39 states

The Bloomberg report comes days after former FBI Director James Comey told the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence that he had "no doubt" that state-directed Russian hackers had attempted to interfere with the 2016 election, stating, "They're coming after America. they will be back".

The Obama administration had a "back channel" to communicate with Russian officials, according to a new report detailing Moscow's efforts to delegitimize the USA presidential election results. Voter data was breached in 39 states, a source told them, which is almost double the number previously reported. There is no evidence that the hackers tampered with the actual vote, and according to Bloomberg, the Obama administration really feared, at the time, that the hackers were more likely to delete voters from the rolls, or slow down vote tallying, which would undermine overall confidence in the US electoral process without changing the final results.

The attacks hit election systems and databases in 39 states in all, according to Bloomberg's sources.

USA intelligence agencies have confirmed that Russian-based "cyber scanning or probing activities" were discovered against state voter registration systems, but this targeting does not equate to gaining access or actual breaches.

In early July 2016, a contractor who works two or three days a week at the state board of elections detected unauthorized data leaving the network, according to Ken Menzel, general counsel for the IL board of elections. (California and Florida were the only other states directly mentioned.) The Illinois database held some 15 million names-half were active voters-and 90,000 records were potentially compromised. That suggested more than a mere spying mission and potentially a test run for a disruptive attack, according to the people familiar with the continuing USA counterintelligence inquiry.

But even if the entire database had been deleted, it might not have affected the election, according to Menzel. The signatures were then sent through Homeland Security alerts and other means to every state. It indicates that hackers tried to alter data. But U.S. officials are increasingly anxious that hackers will end up using the 2016 intrusion as essentially a fact-finding mission for the next election - and potentially, and likely more effectively, fine-tune their meddling. The cyber red phone was announced in 2011 as a provision in the countries' Nuclear Risk Reduction Centers to allow urgent communication to defuse a possible cyber conflict.

Some of Obama's team had pressed to make the information public at the time, but ultimately the White House declined as it could undermine the public's faith in the system.


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