Menzel said that he had been told by the Federal Bureau of Investigation that the attack came from “foreign hackers” and that there was a “possible link” with the attack against the Democratic National Committee servers, which is believed by some to have been carried out by Russian state actors.
“The FBI is requesting that states contact their Board of Elections and determine if any similar activity to their logs, both inbound and outbound, has been detected”, the FBI wrote in a flash alert.
The FBI is warning states to check its voter databases – now there are over 8,000 voting districts across the country – all with different ways of running their elections, down to the type of machine they use.
The warning did not name the states that were targeted.
According to the Illinois Board of Election general counsel, the state had to shut down its voter registration systems for ten days after the hackers stole the personal data of almost 200,000 voters.
While the hackers did not compromise the state network, they stole the username and password of an election official in Gila County, located in central Arizona.
And US officials say Russian intelligence agencies were behind recent hacks into Democratic Party organizations, including the campaign of its White House candidate Hillary Clinton. One unidentified official said “there is serious concern” that Moscow may be seeking to create uncertainty in the election process.
So should we be anxious about the security of the November general election?
NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden recently took to Twitter to speculate that the recent release of information from a hacked NSA staging server could have been given the green light by the Kremlin as a shot across the bows to senior officials not to escalate the “attribution game”.
But, Barger said, “the very fact that [someone] has rattled the doorknobs, the very fact that the state election commissions are in the crosshairs gives grounds to the average American voter to wonder-can they really trust the results?”
Nevertheless, on August 15, Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson had a conference call with state election officials, warning them to be on their guard against online attack.
The FBI has issued a nationwide alert about the possible hacking of state voting records, but the Iowa Secretary of State’s office reports there has been no tampering with Iowa voting records.