Leaked NSA doc highlights deep flaws in US election system

CNN reported Tuesday that an NSA memo, dated May 5, provides details of a 2016 Russian military intelligence cyberattack on a USA voting software supplier. "You just don't do that", said Corley. "Never once did the thought cross my mind".

The Department of Homeland Security knew in September that hackers believed to be Russian agents had targeted the voter registration systems of more than 20 states.

Soon after the report was published on The Intercept, the Trump administration announced the arrest of intelligence contractor Reality Leigh Winner, 25, on charges of violating the espionage act.

The NSA report does not say whether the cyberattack effort had any effect on the election results. Wednesday morning, County Clerk Kelly Sanders is holding a conference call with the Governor's Office of Emergency Services and the IT staff of the California Secretary of State to conduct in-depth diagnostic checks into the county elections systems, she said in an interview.

Bruce Schneier, chief technology officer of IBM Resilient and a fellow at Harvard's Berkman Klein Center for Internet & Society, said the report shows the weaknesses of U.S. election systems. "We have multiple safeguards in place to protect against elections fraud and prevent any possible hacking attempts from being successful". The issue forced officials to abandon the system, issue paper ballots and extend voting hours.

The five page document says VR Systems was hacked by someone opening a Microsoft document that allowed intruders to set up email accounts and contact the election vendor's clients.

According to sources, a total of about 10 states have had their systems probed or breached by hackers, similar to what happened in Arizona and IL.

The emails looked authentic because Russian hackers persuaded several VR Systems employees in late August to enter their credentials into a fake website, according to the document.

S.C. Election Commission Executive Director Marci Andino, however, has asked county election officials to report if the Federal Bureau of Investigation contacts them about being subject to phishing scams tied to last year's election.

"We are only aware of a handful of our customers who actually received the fraudulent email and of those, we have no indication that any of them clicked on the attachment or were compromised as a result", the statement said. "Phishing and spear-phishing are not uncommon in our society".

The NSA document did not name any of the states where local officials were targeted by the emails masquerading as being from VR Systems.


Still, her office was contacting county boards about potential breaches. The county used the software to sign in voters.

Broward, Palm Beach and Miami-Dade countiessay they have no record or recollection of receiving a suspect email, purporting to come from Tallahassee-based VR Systems, that could have initiated a cyberattack on electronic voter check-in and registration files if its attachment were opened.

Published reports, including by The New York Times, have referenced the affected company that uses the electronic voter identification system used by poll workers and sold by VR Systems, a Florida company.

"The data and physical security measures our office employs for our technology infrastructure is top-notch", he said.

The Orange County Supervisor of Elections Office designed its own software and does not contract with VR Systems.

Dmitry Peskov, spokesman for Russian President Vladimir Putin, denied the hacking and phishing allegations Tuesday, saying the Kremlin did not see "any evidence to prove this information is true".

"We did receive an email on November 7, 2016, however, (we) did not open the attachment", Lewis said.

The scramble for information comes after a leaked intelligence report detailing the effort. The NSA employs thousands of private contractors for its work and victor was one of those contractors who released the report.

"We'd like to make sure we go that extra step to make sure the voters in our community are confident in their votes", she said.

Volusia's Lewis said such hacking attempts erode the public's trust in the country's voting process.

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