A top official at the Department of Homeland Security confirmed on Wednesday that Russia did indeed "successfully" hack voting rolls in a small number of states. NBC writes:
In an exclusive interview with NBC News, Jeanette Manfra, the head of cybersecurity at the Department of Homeland Security, said she couldn't talk about classified information publicly, but in 2016, "We saw a targeting of 21 states and an exceptionally small number of them were actually successfully penetrated."
While breaches of voter rolls in at least two states—Arizona and Illinois—had been previously reported, this appears to be the first positive confirmation of Russian success by a top Homeland Security official.
Last September, DHS botched the public release of information about Russian hacking efforts in 21 states, originally contacting individual states on a Friday to give them limited information about hacker attempts to breach their systems. The Associated Press finally rolled the reports into one cohesive story. Several days later, Homeland Security officials told Wisconsin officials the information they previously relayed to the state hadn't been totally accurate. That show of competency been about par for the course for DHS.
Wednesday's Homeland Security revelation came just hours after Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said Russia was already eyeing the upcoming midterms and the U.S. was nowhere near prepared to deal with it.
"I don't know that I would say we are better prepared, because the Russians will adapt as well," Tillerson told Fox. [...]
"There's a lot of ways that the Russians can meddle in the elections, a lot of different tools they can use," Tillerson said.
Tillerson told Fox that he suspects Russia's exercise of its influence has already begun, and indicated that the US doesn't really have a solid plan to block it.
Great. Tillerson was basically saying the Trump administration has made us sitting ducks. Of course, Tillerson has been a part of the problem for a long time. And just weeks ago, Trump declined to implement sanctions against Russia that had been approved by Congress.
Homeland Security is apparently doing something to try to help states prepare, writes The Hill.
The department is providing vulnerability tests and other services to states looking to shore up the cybersecurity of their election systems ahead of future votes, as part of its new designation of voting systems as critical infrastructure.
Homeland Security is also working with state election officials to share information on cyber threats.
But the efforts to date are much less clear than Homeland Security is suggesting, according to NBC.
Many of the states complained the federal government did not provide specific threat details, saying that information was classified and state officials did not have proper clearances. Manfra told us those clearances are now being processed
Other states that NBC contacted said they were still waiting for cybersecurity help from the federal government. Manfra said there was no waiting list and that DHS will get to everyone.
At this point, your guess is as good as ours… or DHS’s, for that matter.