Feds: Russians tried to hack Washington state elections

KING 5's Chris Daniels reports.

Federal authorities have told officials in Washington that Russian hackers unsuccessfully tried to access election systems in the state prior to the 2016 general election.

Secretary of State Kim Wyman said in a statement that the Department of Homeland security informed her office Friday of the attempted breach, which state officials had already been aware of.

“As we’ve stated before, we continue to work cooperatively with DHS – including during the election last year. The security protocols we already have in place made us aware of these attempted intrusions by Russian IP addresses throughout the course of the 2016 election. There was no successful intrusion and we immediately alerted the Federal Bureau of Investigation of the activities," Wyman said in a released statement.

Wyman said security protocols in place tipped them off to "attempted intrusions" by Russian IP addresses throughout the course of last year's election.  The secretary of state's office alerted the FBI and Wyman said her office continues to work with federal officials.

“Suspicious IP addresses that were trying to get into those internet facing pages - they weren’t able to get through our firewalls, but making attempts,” she told KING 5.  “It’s hard to say what these hackers may be trying to do with the information.”

However, she hinted there is a strong chance the hackers were attempting to get voter registration data since tabulations are not connected to the state website.

“The 39 counties are the ones responsible for counting peoples ballots, and all of those systems are separate from the internet, and there is not a way for people to get to them from the outside,” she said.

As far as whether there was an impact anywhere else, Wyman, a Republican who says she strives to serve in a non-partisan fashion, doubts it.

Other states targeted

A 50-state tally by The Associated Press shows election officials in 19 states confirm their election systems were targeted by hackers last year.

The states are Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Illinois, Iowa, Maryland, Minnesota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Virginia, Washington and Wisconsin.

North Dakota was the only state that failed to provide answers. Republican Secretary of State Al Jaeger says he "can't be specific at this time what the situation is." He says he's trying to get more information from Washington.

A response also isn't available from the District of Columbia.

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security says it recognizes state and local officials should be kept informed about cybersecurity risks to election infrastructure.

“I am confident that nothing was manipulated in vote tallying because the model we have for tabulation is similar to other states. They don't connect their systems. It's best practice. You shouldn't be connecting your tabulation system to the internet,” she said.

 

KING 5's Chris Daniels and Liza Javier contributed.

© 2017 KING-TV


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