Intelligence Panel Learns How to Hack Air-Gapped Voting Systems

DHS, at Hearing, Discloses that Russia Targeted 21 State Election Systems

Hackers can breach air-gapped voting machines and tallying systems in an attempt to alter ballots to sway the outcome of an election, a Senate panel has learned. Also, at the hearing, DHS discloses that Russian hackers targeted 21 state election systems before the 2016 election.

“Our election infrastructure is not as distant from the internet as it may seem,” Alex Halderman, a University of Michigan computer science professor, testified Wednesday before the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence

The Senate panel, as well as its House counterpart, held simultaneous hearings focused on the impact of Russian hacking on America’s election process (see Election Systems’ Hacks Far Greater Than First Realized ). At both sessions, lawmakers heard witnesses agree that Russian hackers did not alter votes in the 2016 presidential election.

“To my current knowledge, the Russian government did not through any cyber intrusion alter ballots, ballot counts or reporting of election results,” Jeh Johnson, who served as homeland security secretary during last year’s election, told the House Select Permanent Committee on Intelligence. Officials from DHS, FBI and state governments testifying at the Senate hearing agreed that no ballots were changed in last year’s election.

DHS: Russians Targeted 21 States

Meanwhile, at the Senate hearing, DHS Acting Deputy Undersecretary for Cybersecurity Jeanette Manfra disclosed that Russian hackers targeted election systems in 21 states before the 2016 election. Manfra declined to reveal which states hackers targeted. Arizona and Illinois had previously disclosed that their databases have been targeted.

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