Over the summer, a breaking report indicated Russian hackers had “breached” the electoral system in at least 39 states. This startling revelation was followed by one anonymous U.S. official’s suggestion that 21 particular states were targeted by these sanctioned (of affiliated) groups during the 2016 presidential election. The latter story was confirmed during a congressional hearing, though it and many other previous and subsequent reports have only begun to illuminate Russia’s alleged involvement in the election. On Friday, Homeland Security confirmed it had officially informed the 21 states in question in a statement to Politico.
“DHS notified the Secretary of State or other chief election officer in each state of any potential targeting we were aware of in their state leading up to the 2016 election,” said department spokesperson Scott McConnell. “Recognizing that state and local officials should be kept informed about cybersecurity risks to election infrastructure, we are working with them to refine our processes for sharing this information while protecting the integrity of investigations and the confidentiality of system owners.”
In conclusion, McConnell told Politico the DHS would “continue to keep this information confidential and defer to each state whether it wishes to make it public or not.” In other words, they weren’t about to go on the record and provide a list of all 21 states. Even so, the website was able to confirm with state officials in Alabama, Minnesota, Washington and Wisconsin that DHS had reached out to them. However, all four states also insisted that the hackers’ attempts to infiltrate their electoral systems were unsuccessful. Previously, officials from Arizona and Illinois had confirmed their systems were targeted in 2016.