Election 2016: Cyber help requests now up to 46 states
WASHINGTON, D.C. — All but eight states have now asked the Department of Homeland Security for assistance shoring up their election systems against cyberthreats, according to a senior DHS official.
That number has been steadily trending upward. Earlier this month, 33 states and 11 county or local election agencies had requested the help offered by DHS. As of Monday, that number stands at 46.
As rhetoric has swirled that next week’s election could be “rigged,” and as the US government has publicly accused the Russian government of meddling in the election by hacking Democratic political groups, concerns about attempted cyberattacks on election infrastructure have increased.
While experts assure Americans it would be extremely difficult to alter or affect the outcome of national elections, DHS has also offered to help states and local governments test and prepare their systems to be sure.
DHS has urged states to take advantage of its resources, which include scanning systems for vulnerabilities and recommendations for improving cybersecurity on election and voter registration systems.
More than 20 states have experienced attempts to hack into their voter registration databases or other election-affiliated systems.
Only one has been reported as successfully reaching voter data — a hack in Illinois that accessed information on roughly 90,000 voters. Hackers may have been able to steal personal information like date of birth, driver’s license numbers and the last four digits of Social Security numbers. But no alterations were detected.
Voter registration databases have always been an attractive target for hackers because of the wealth of personal information they contain that can be useful for financial crimes. But experts are also concerned about the risk of manipulation of data or changes and deletions that cause confusion on Election Day.