Not a day goes by that the Uproxx Trump-Russia timeline doesn’t get a few extra notches in its belt. More recent additions have concerned former FBI Director James Comey’s congressional testimony, which Attorney General Jeff Sessions will soon follow up with his own public hearing. Yet one particular subject of interest we haven’t heard too much about lately is Russia’s attempt to hack the 2016 election — especially its scope. Just how big was the state-run operation, and were any other major tools (aside from Britney Spears’ Instagram account) involved?
According to a bombshell report by Bloomberg, it seems Russian interference in last year’s presidential election was far larger than previously revealed. So much bigger, in fact, that one of three sources with knowledge of the U.S. investigation claimed hackers “hit systems in a total of 39 states.”
In Illinois, investigators found evidence that cyber intruders tried to delete or alter voter data. The hackers accessed software designed to be used by poll workers on Election Day, and in at least one state accessed a campaign finance database.
The hacking of Illinois’ voting system quickly became the investigation’s “patient zero” as the sheer breadth of it indicated a much larger, multi-state operation. One that, as the report notes, ultimately indicated a “hacking pandemic that touched four out of every five U.S. states.”
[A] contractor who works two or three days a week at the state board of elections detected unauthorized data leaving the network… The hackers had gained access to the state’s voter database, which contained information such as names, dates of birth, genders, driver’s licenses and partial Social Security numbers on 15 million people, half of whom were active voters. As many as 90,000 records were ultimately compromised.
Because counties upload voter information to the state and not vice versa, the hacking didn’t necessarily affect the source. As a result, had the intruders decided to delete everything in Illinois’ system (or those of the other hacked states), the election wouldn’t have been affected as seriously as one might think. Even so, Bloomberg’s report — which is corroborated in part by a top secret National Security Agency report detailed by The Intercept — lends credence to Comey’s testimony on Russia. “They’re coming after America,” he told the Senate Intelligence Committee. “They will be back.”