Report: Russia’s US Election Interference Was Widespread

The U.S. federal government and many states haven’t conducted forensic investigations into the election systems probed by hackers prior to the 2016 election. An investigation by the New York Times has found two more providers of election systems that were breached.

ackers targeted election systems in at least 21 states prior to the 2016 presidential election, according to an investigation by the New York Times. But state and federal agencies have not launched the type of forensic digital investigations that would be required to reveal the full extent or impact of such attacks, the publication reported.

While U.S. intelligence agencies unanimously agree that Russia conducted a hacking and information leak campaign designed to disrupt the election, the agencies did not believe Russian intelligence agencies tried to manipulate ballots or vote counts (see Intelligence Report Blames Putin for Election-Related Hacks).

But the Times investigation, which cites nearly two dozen anonymous national security and state officials, indicates that the United States still has not fully explored how attackers targeted voting infrastructure and what the ramifications might have been.

The Times also reports that intelligence officials believe hackers gained access to the systems of two election services vendors. The companies were not named.

In June, a National Security Agency contractor, Reality Leigh Winner, was arrested after she allegedly leaked a top-secret memo revealing an election-themed spear-phishing campaign (see U.S. Contractor Arrested in Leak of NSA Top-Secret File).

The five-page memo says attackers sent emails that purported to be from VR Systems, a Florida-based provider of electoral roll software, to 122 email addresses associated with local governments. The Times quotes VR Systems’ chief operating officer, Ben Martin, as saying he did not believe the hackers were successful in compromising his company’s systems.

The NSA memo says attackers created a Gmail address, vr.elections@gmail.com, and emailed Microsoft Word documents with setup guides for EViD, a system from used to verify voters’ identities. The documents were rigged with malicious software, the NSA memo concludes.

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