While I strongly support the increased funding for our military, I could not in good conscience vote for the Omnibus that costs almost $1.3 trillion. The military threats to our national security are real and serious, but so is the fiscal threat to our national security.
— Gary Palmer (@USRepGaryPalmer) March 22, 2018
Alabama Among 21 States Targeted by Russian Hackers
According to The Hill, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) notified 21 states on Friday that Russia attempted to hack their election systems prior to the 2016 election. Alabama is one of those states.
In many of the cases, DHS only saw preparations for hacking, such as scanning for potential modes of attack. Since voting machines are not connected to the internet, the only systems vulnerable to attack would be those that house voter roles. However, there was no evidence discovered that suggests Russia altered votes or vote totals in any way.
Alabama Secretary of State John Merrill released a statement after being notified of the attempted hack.
“Over the course if the election season, the MS-ISAC’s (Multi-State Information Sharing and Analysis Center) Albert network monitoring service identified scanning activity from suspicious IP addresses against 21 states. In Alabama, DHS and MS-ISAC observed suspicious traffic from IP addresses on Alabama state networks, but those IP addresses were thwarted from conducting any successful breach…This information shows Alabama’s system protections and preparations were successful in thwarting attempted hackers from breaching state networks and voting systems during the attacks.”
Other states included in the DHS report are California, Colorado, Florida, and Minnesota. DHS has not released a full list of the states that were affected. However, the intelligence community does not believe that any of these state’s vote totals were altered in any way to impact the outcome of the election.
Intelligence officials do believe that Russian hackers attacked the Democratic National Committee and other political officials in an attempt to influence the election. Documents obtained from these targets may have been leaked to the public to sway voter opinion of several candidates.
While state officials and lawmakers are relieved that the systems put in place to protect our election systems did just that, some question why it took DHS so long to notify the various states. Lawmakers acknowledge that we need to remain aware of the evolving threats to our national security and take appropriate action to thwart any cyberattack in the future.
“While it is encouraging that our efforts to protect Alabamians’ data have proven to be successful, we must remain vigilant and prepared for the constantly evolving threats to our voting systems and the integrity of those processes. We will utilize every resource available to ensure we are protecting the data of all Alabamians,” said Secretary Merrill.
Alabama moves to protect election systems after FBI discovers hacks in other states
MONTGOMERY, Ala. — Alabama elections officials are moving to ensure the state’s voting systems are secure in the wake of revelations that the voter databases in at least two other states have been breached in recent months.
According to a Reuters report, “The Federal Bureau of Investigation has found breaches in Illinois and Arizona’s voter registration databases and is urging states to increase computer security ahead of the Nov. 8 presidential election.”
The database breaches do not “necessarily suggest an effort to manipulate the votes themselves,” but raise concerns at a time when cyber security is already playing a significant role in the presidential election. The Democratic National Committee was hacked last month, with embarrassing emails showing coordination between the DNC and the Hillary Clinton campaign being released publicly. The hack, which intelligence officials have pinned on Russian operatives, led to the resignation of DNC chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz.
David Kennedy, the CEO of TrustedSec, a firm specializing in information security, told Reuters the latest attacks on voter databases were “largely exploratory and not especially sophisticated.” He added, however, that “it could be a precursor to a larger attack.”
The Alabama Secretary of State’s office told Yellowhammer they are working with federal authorities and the state’s election system vendor to ensure security.
“Secretary [John] Merrill participated in a conference call with several other secretaries of state regarding this issue,” said John Bennett, Secretary Merrill’s communications director. “During the call the Department of Homeland Security advised that they would be willing to have members of their team deployed to states to help set-up significant protections against hacking. Secretary Merrill was a part of bipartisan support requesting that the power to secure and properly maintain elections should remain in the hands of the states. This was followed by similar support for the complex systems that states have in place to protect our elections systems.
“We did, however, [complete] an internal review of our systems and have verified that no breaches have taken place at this time. We are also currently working with Election Systems & Software, our election systems vendor, to ensure that no breaches have occurred to their system.”
Statewide elections are scheduled to take place Tuesday, Nov. 8.