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Russian Hacking of the US Elections Was Worse Than We Thought

A new report claims the Russians compromised 39 states—nearly twice as many as previously reported.

Drew Schwartz

Drew Schwartz

Photo via Wikimedia Commons

New intel on Russia's attempt to influence the 2016 presidential election reveals hackers managed to break into dozens of states' voting systems and tried to delete info in at least one of them, Bloomberg reports.

Three people with direct knowledge of the US investigation into Russian election meddling told Bloomberg hackers infiltrated 39 states' voting systems—about twice as many as previously reported. Hackers also tried and failed to delete or tweak info in Illinois's software, which might have served as a test run for a larger disruptive attack, the sources said.

Bloomberg's report follows the publication of top-secret National Security Agency documents obtained by the Intercept, which detail Russian attempts to gain illicit access to a company that helps a handful of states run their voting systems. The new report from Bloomberg makes clear that even states which had no relationship with the company were compromised—a total of roughly four out of every five across the country were hacked.

The attack—which went down in the summer and fall of 2016—alarmed former president Barack Obama and his administration. According to NBC, he contacted Russia through a secure back channel to pass along evidence of the hack. Then in December, the administration slapped down sanctions on Russia in retaliation for the cyber attack.

"Last year, as we detected intrusions into websites managed by election officials around the country, the administration worked relentlessly to protect our election infrastructure," Obama spokesman Eric Schultz told Bloomberg. "Given that our election systems are so decentralized, that effort meant working with Democratic and Republican election administrators from all across the country to bolster their cyber defenses."

While Russian officials have denied the country targeted the US elections, former FBI director James Comey avowed under oath during last week's Senate Intelligence Committee hearing that "the Russians interfered in our election" and that they "will be back."

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