Did Russia hack a voter database in America? According to a letter sent to the F.B.I. by Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid, there is substantial evidence showing that hackers from Russia attempted to hack into Arizona and Illinois’ voting system in July.
Reid explained to F.B.I. Director James B. Comey Jr. that he and many tech experts believe that Russian President Vladimir V. Putin is attempting to manipulate the United States’ voting system.
It is a well known fact that Donald Trump and Mr. Putin have a lot of admiration for each other. We have been witnessing something unprecedented in American history – a foreign party playing a significant role in a presidential election.
WikiLeaks founder and editor-in-chief Julian Assange, who has ties to Russia, published hacked information from the campaign of the Democratic presidential nominee and the Democratic National Committee. Assange leaked a series of embarrassing emails, which forced former DNC chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz to resign.
The leaks were orchestrated by a hacker, who called himself Guccifer 2.0. Experts say it is “an alias for Russian hackers linked to the intelligence agencies.” Last week while talking to Megyn Kelly, Assange said he planned to release important emails related to the Clintons before the debates. In the letter to the F.B.I. Director, Mr. Reid wrote:
“The threat of Russian interference is more extensive than is widely known and may include the intent to falsify official election results. Recent classified briefings from senior intelligence officials have left me fearful that President Vladimir V. Putin’s goal is tampering with this election.”
The message went on to say:
“The prospect of individuals tied to Trump, WikiLeaks, and the Russian government coordinating to influence our election raises concerns of the utmost gravity and merits full examination.”
On Monday, officials at the Illinois State Board of Elections confirmed that their voting database was compromised. Hackers were able to access personal details of 200,000 voters. During the cyber attack, driver’s license numbers, state ID or Social Security numbers were viewed but not erased nor stolen.
On Tuesday, Ken Menzel, general counsel for the elections board, told SC Magazine:
“Some data, but far from all, may have been captured.”
According to Mr. Menzel:
“The attackers may have gained access to data on citizens registered to vote online. The personal data of long-time registrants or those who enrolled through a registrar is not in the state voter files.”
The crime was discovered on July 12 and that same day; security experts rushed to “altered the code to mitigate database queries originating from suspect locations.”
Menzel concluded his interview in a way that was not very reassuring to the American public. The official said that while he firmly believes that the state databases were not compromised, they are still analyzing the situation and are working with authorities on the matter.
The experts said that the attack forced them to take the voter registration portal offline to improve security. Arizona state officials are also working with the FBI after being alerted that in June their election system was attacked by Russian hackers. Levi Gundert, vice president of intelligence and strategy at Recorded Future, an Internet technology company, told SC Magazine:
“There are a million reasons as to why whoever hacked the voter registration systems targeted these databases.This could be Russia continuing to prove they can interfere with the U.S. election cycle and doing anything they can accomplish with that objective in mind. This could also be part of the larger trend of criminal groups stealing data from various databases, then cross-referencing other stolen databases to compromise bigger targets.”
In an interview, Reid said that Russia will try to focus on six swing states to alter results for Trump. Mr. Reid said:
“Trump and his people keep saying the election is rigged. Why is he saying that? Because people are telling him, the election can be messed with.”
Thus far, there has been zero leaks from the Republican party. Nonetheless, Mr. Trump’s advisers “say they are concerned that unnamed elites could rig the election for his opponent, Hillary Clinton.”
The FBI’s Cyber Division has asked election officials across the country to take actions rapidly to strengthen the security of their computer systems.