The current U.S. Special Counsel investigation is revealing far more about just how much and how often Russia interferes with U.S. politics than most people expected. New evidence shows that Russian cyber hackers directly interfered with electoral systems in an incredible 39 states across America, though it wasn’t immediately clear what impact those hacking attempts had (if any) on the outcome.
In just one Illinois occurrence, hackers directly attempted to alter or otherwise destroy voter information by directly accessing state voting software from a remote location. Information changed included both verification of the right to vote and personal identity.
What is even more concerning is the fact that it appears the Obama administration was well aware of the hacking attempts even before the Trump election. The recent investigation revealed that Obama’s team contacted Moscow’s government at least once throughout his term to complain about the attempts out of concern for their impact. It also appears that the prior POTUS warned Russia of increasing conflict between the U.S. and Russia if the attacks continued.
America’s Lack of Security
Despite these threats, it seems that the American government as a whole has made very little progress into halting these cyber attacks. Intercept recently released a document from the National Security Agency (NSA) detailing the sheer untouchable nature of the attacks, including the fact that the vulnerabilities come not from Russia’s interference but from the American voting system and technology itself.
It is auspicious timing for Russia, having come only a week after FBI Director James Comey released a warning that he had reason to suspect that Russia was still and would continue to be interfering with American politics long into the future.
Despite the clear evidence of Russian hacking into the voting system, the Russian government (including Putin himself) has yet to claim responsibility for the hacks. Putin did admit that Russian criminals may be at the helm, but the admission has many experts asking whether it’s a cover story for a deeper intelligence campaign.
Russian interference could also endanger American citizens directly. Evidence shows that Russian hackers were not only able to potentially interfere with election outcomes, but also gain access to sensitive personal voter information that would make it easy to steal identities. This is especially concerning for voters in Illinois, where the hacking attempts were most extensive. Florida and California also had remarkably high incidences of hacking attempts from Russian IP addresses.
The fact that data tracks illustrated that hackers actively attempted to change or otherwise remove the information is extremely concerning. Though it is within the realm of possibilities for a criminal hacker to attempt to access the data out of curiosity, or even to hold it hostage, only someone attempting to achieve a specific goal would seek to change it. This is part of the reason American intelligence experts question Russia’s denial of involvement.