State election officials are baffled by a Bloomberg report alleging that Russian hackers compromised the voting systems in 39 states, adding that cybersecurity firms were engaging in scare tactics to win state and local contracts to protect election systems.
The June 13 Bloomberg story said that hackers staged incursions last year into voter databases and software systems in almost twice as many states as previously reported.
“In Illinois, investigators found evidence that cyber intruders tried to delete or alter voter data. The hackers accessed software designed to be used by poll workers on Election Day, and in at least one state accessed a campaign finance database,” the report said.
It cited three unnamed sources with direct knowledge of “the U.S. investigation into the matter.”
“In all, the Russian hackers hit systems in a total of 39 states, one of them said,” the report said.
The National Security Agency, the FBI and the U.S. Homeland Security Department all are looking into various aspects of what intelligence officials said was Russian meddling into the U.S. election systems.
Kay Stimson, spokeswoman for the National Association of Secretaries of State, said the members of her group — which represents the chief election officials in 40 states — were taken aback by the allegation that 39 states were hacked.
“We cannot verify any information in that report,” Stimson told Benzinga. “It has some claims that have raised some red flags. I don’t know where they’re getting it. We’re not able to assess to the credibility.”
Cyber Security Firms Capitalizing On Russian Scare
She said that some cybersecurity firms were engaging in scare tactics at the state and local levels.
“There are cybersecurity firms making some wild claims,” she said. “It is a very aggressive industry.”
Bloomberg attributed the number of states “hit” — Stimson questioned the meaning of the word — to the systems in 39 states. “It’s hard to say how they ‘hit’ 39 states,” she said.
Homeland Security also issued a report about the Bloomberg report, saying: “While we are not going to get into specifics of activity at the state level, the vast majority of what we saw was scanning — not attempts to intrude — and unsuccessful attempts to steal data held in voter registration databases.”
Little Doubt Russian Meddling In Election
Despite the reaction to the Bloomberg report, there is little doubt that Russian actors attempted to access U.S. election systems. Special investigator Robert Mueller has been tasked with spearheading the investigation into whether the Trump campaign colluded with Kremlin affiliates to leak damaging emails and rig the election.
The Washington Post reported that Mueller, who was named after Trump fired FBI Director James B. Comey, was now targeting Trump himself as part of the probe, and had brought on board personnel with experience investigating money laundering and organized crime.
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