Omaha, NE.—Just weeks before the 2016 presidential election Russian hackers targeted Nebraska voter rolls but came up empty, according to a federal report uncovered by 60 Minutes.
The previously undisclosed Department of Homeland Security internal document notes the hackers tried to get in 20 state election systems along with an election IT provider in Nebraska.
According to the Nebraska notation (see screen shot below), “The CEO for a third party election vendor noted a small percentage of IP’s from the FLASH/JAR were found scanning their systems…There is no evidence of a compromise.”
Other states weren’t so lucky, says Anthony Ferrante.
But the former director of Cyber Incident Response for President Barack Obama’s National Security Council adds, “On election day the teams saw no signs the Russians tampered with the vote.” Ferrante says he doesn’t know why the Russians did not pull the trigger.
Ferrante’s boss, Michael Daniel, President Obama’s cyber czar, says the experts concluded the Russians were not tampering with voting machines, which unlike voter rolls, are not connected to the internet:
“What seemed much more likely to us was causing chaos at the polls on Election Day. So if you intrude into a voter registration database and you change two digits of everybody’s address so that their voter ID doesn’t match what’s in the voter rolls, when they show up at the polls stories start to spread, lines begin to form. Election officials can’t figure out what’s going on. You would only have to do it in a few places and it would almost feed on itself.”—Michael Daniel.
Seven months after the 2016 election the Omaha World-Herald reported, “Nebraska Secretary of State John Gale said his office has not been notified of any election system hacks affecting Nebraska or its counties.”
The Herald’s report went on to say that according to Gale, “State officials remain alert to ‘any abnormal situation,’ and they work with counties to make sure they follow best practices when it comes to email and computer system security.”