Daily Management Review

U.S. Official Says Russians Targeted 21 Election Systems


U.S. Official Says Russians Targeted 21 Election Systems
An U.S. Homeland Security Department official told Congress on Wednesday that a small number of state election systems in the 2016 presidential race were breached but there was no evidence any votes were manipulated by Russian hackers who had targeted 21 U.S. state election systems presidential race.
This was reveled after a Jeanette Manfra, the department's acting deputy undersecretary of cyber security, testified before the Senate Intelligence Committee.
Helping Donald Trump, a Republican, win the White House in November, online propaganda to discredit Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton and email hacking were among the wide-ranging influence operation that Kremlin orchestrated, the U.S. intelligence agencies have concluded.
A shadow over Trump's first five months in office was cast by the Russia issue. The source of speculation and media reports for months have been whether they or others could interfere in future elections, and the extent of interference by Russian hackers.
Responsibility for any cyber attacks during the election have been denied repeatedly by Russia.  Trump has dismissed allegations his associates colluded with Moscow as "fake news" but has variously said Russia may or may not have been responsible for hacking.
Because they are decentralized and largely operated on the state and local level, Manfra and other officials testifying on Wednesday said U.S. elections are resilient to hacking in part.
Saying only a small number of votes in key battleground states would need to be altered to tip the scales in an election, Senator Angus King, an independent from Maine who caucuses with the Democrats, voiced skepticism.
"A sophisticated actor could hack an election simply by focusing on certain counties," King said. "I don't think it works just to say it’s a big system and diversity will protect us."
Frustration at Manfra's refusal to identify which states had been targeted was expressed by Mark Warner, the top Democrat on the Senate panel. Hackers had targeted their voter registration systems, Arizona and Illinois last year confirmed.
States targeted or scanned were linked to a thief walking by homes to scout for weaknesses, and breaches to breaking through a front door by Samuel Liles, another senior DHS cyber official.
To ensure that the panel's probe of what led to Trump firing Federal Bureau of Investigation Director James Comey and ensure there was no conflict between his investigation of potential collusion between Russia and the Trump campaign, Special Counsel Robert Mueller, a former FBI director, met on Wednesday with senior Senate Judiciary Committee members.
Trump seemed to assail the Justice Department official overseeing the inquiry and acknowledged on Friday he was under investigation in the probe of alleged Russian meddling in the 2016 race and possible collusion by his campaign.
Sources said that whether Trump or others sought to obstruct the probe was being examined by Mueller.
His department had issued warnings about hacking into voter registration databases, Jeh Johnson, who led the Homeland Security Department until the end of the Obama administration, told the U.S. House of Representatives Intelligence Committee.

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