Today in the Senate Homeland Security Committee hearing, Jeanette Manfra, chief cybersecurity official for the Department of Homeland Security, stated that 21 states were targeted by Russian hackers prior to the 2016 election. Officials maintain that only election-related digital systems were targeted, not vote-tallying systems, nor is there evidence that vote tallies were altered.
From The Hill
Jeanette Manfra, the official, acknowledged that the department only had enough “visibility” to confirm activity targeting 21 states because of sensors in place in the state systems and information provided by the intelligence community.
“I think we can assume that the majority of the states were probably a target,” Manfra said during a Senate Homeland Security Committee hearing in response to questioning from ranking member Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.).
But Manfra pushed back on McCaskill’s assertion that states where activity was not detected were likely more vulnerable to Russian hackers because they didn’t have tools in place to detect breach attempts. Manfra noted that most of the activity Homeland Security analyzed involved hackers scanning for vulnerabilities, rather than trying to break into systems.
Manfra stressed that only a small number of state systems were actually breached.
17 states have requested vulnerability assessments of election systems after Homeland Security offered voluntary federal protections in the hopes of preventing breaches in future elections. Manfra stated that the Department of Homeland Security is taking an aggressive stance to prevent future meddling. “We cannot let it happen it again,” she told lawmakers.
Manfra’s written testimony to the committee can be found here.
Why It Matters:
Mafra is correct: We cannot let it happen again.
Our elections are what keep us a free people, with duly elected leaders who we trust to preserve our liberty. Russian elections are shams with predetermined outcomes to validate a KGB thug. Russia would love nothing more than to undermine our free elections. They probed our vulnerabilities and attacked us on social media in 2016, notably pushing fake news so that we would be confused and less able to determine the truth.
There may be no surprise that Russia would seek to undermine our faith in our election systems but it is wholly unacceptable that they do so and, heading into the 2018 midterm and with the 2020 presidential elections already looming, it is vital that we shore up our election security. Because they will continue to meddle to whatever extent they are permitted to do so.