August 29, 2016

The FBI has sent out an alert to Arizona and Illinois that their voter registration databases were hacked and the personal data of at least 200,000 registered voters was accessed.

Mother Jones reports:

The FBI believes hackers tried to get data from the State Board of Elections in at least two states in July and August, according to a notice sent to elections officials around the country and published by Yahoo News Monday morning. It's unclear what data the hackers were able to get, but the information suggests they scanned the state elections boards' websites looking for vulnerabilities. They found several and attempted to enter the systems, and some "exfiltration"—which refers to theft of data—occurred.

On August 18, state elections officials received a "Flash," a notice sent by the FBI to various relevant parties, titled "Targeting Activity Against State Board of Election Systems." The FBI reported that it had received reports of an additional IP address—a unique series of numbers that identifies every device that connects to the internet—within the logs of one state's board of election's system in July, and then another attempt at breaking into a separate state's system in August. The IP address numbers can be easily masked to hide an attacker's true origin, but the flash included detailed information about the methods used by the hackers. The FBI asked state election officials to scan their own network logs for similar activities.

The FBI didn't identify the states involved, but Yahoo News, citing "sources familiar with" the FBI flash, reports that the attacks likely targeted voter registration databases in Arizona and Illinois. In Illinois, state election officials shut down the state's voter registration system for 10 days in late July, Yahoo News reports, while the attack in Arizona was more limited.

If anyone is concerned about rigging elections, this should be why. This is what keeps me up at night, particularly when I find out that states like Georgia run their election systems on Windows 2000, a system that hasn't been supported by Microsoft in years.

Paper ballots. Counted in public. That's what we need to be doing.

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