Leaked NSA report highlights deep flaws in US elections

Volusia was part of attempted Russian hack of election

But it suggests hackers got deeper into U.S. voting systems than previously believed.

A national intelligence report said Russian military agents tried to hack the Collier County computers along with Hillsborough, Pasco, Citrus, Clay, and Volusia counties.

SAN FRANCISCO Russian hacking of the 2016 US election included sophisticated targeting of state officials responsible for voter rolls and voting procedures, according to a top secret USA intelligence document that was leaked and published this week, revealing another potential method of attempted interference in the vote.

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

VR Systems are used in Seminole and Volusia counties, where election officials confirmed to News 6 on Tuesday that both received the malicious email but were not affected.

It's important to note, elections official said, the state of IN does not contract with VR Systems.

"To our knowledge, there has been no Florida county that executed this phishing attempt", Chambless, who said his medium-sized elections office gets about 3,500 phishing or spam messages daily.

The target of the attempted hack was VR Systems, an election system company based in Tallahassee.

"This shows Russian Federation was interested in attacking the computer infrastructure that operated the election and raises important questions including how far they got", he told AFP. According to reports, the Russians were pretending to be VR Systems.

But in September, the Federal Bureau of Investigation held a conference call with all 67 county elections supervisors in the battleground state of Florida to inform them of infiltration of VR Systems without naming the company.

She denied there were any successful hacking attempts from the phishing emails investigated by the National Security Administration. "But there was no indication of a Florida-specific issue". "Steps taken to secure databases include implementing software, hardware and firewalls to protect information".

"This has been in the works for a number of years", she said.

"Yes, we did receive it", Gill said, "and we immediately received an email from VR Systems telling us not to open it".

County Clerk, Recorder and Registrar of Voters Kelly Sanders and Information Technology Division Director Jim Storm said they spoke with officials from the two state offices over the phone to discuss the county's current cyber-security systems.

"Even if the bad guys would have accessed our local registration files (which they didn't), those files are in no way connected to vote counting", he wrote.

VR Systems produces the voter registration software which collects personal voter data.

The DHS official - speaking on background because of the subject's sensitive nature - explained that hackers of all stripes are constantly testing the digital defenses of every state's public-facing election systems.

Even if attempts were made to send the phishing emails to Humboldt County employees, Storm said that the county has a layered security system in place that would have more than likely blocked them.

"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", it reads. Ion Sancho, who retired as Leon County supervisor in December, said he later learned from industry contacts that it was VR Systems.

Sanders said that the county is now seeking a new vendor to provide the polling software, but said it was due to changes in state regulations and not in any way related to the hacking incident.

The alleged source for the NSA document, a 25-year-old government contractor in Georgia named Reality Leigh Winner, was charged with transmitting classified information Monday, just hours after the document was published. Information from The New York Times was used to supplement this report.


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