Russian hackers target U.S. computer systems; feds say elections data not compromised

Kevin Johnson, USA TODAY
·2 min read

Russian hackers have targeted an array of U.S. computer systems, including aviation and local government networks where intrusions were detected on some systems containing election-related material, federal officials said Thursday.

While officials acknowledged that the activity posed "some risk to elections information housed on (state and local government) networks," there is "no evidence to date that the integrity of election data has been compromised," according to an alert issued by the FBI and Department of Homeland Security.

Christopher Krebs, director of DHS' Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency, described the activity Thursday has a "broad scanning" effort by the Russians that had not interfered with actual voting.

The bulletin comes a day after U.S. intelligence officials warned that Iran and Russia had obtained U.S. voter registration information in an effort to undermine confidence in the upcoming election.

More: DNI John Ratcliffe warns of election interference by Iran and Russia, urges caution

More: FBI warns delayed election results could be exploited by foreign actors spreading disinformation

U.S. officials blamed Iranian hackers for threatening emails claiming to be linked to the far-right, authoritarian group Proud Boys that were sent to voters in Florida, Pennsylvania and other states.

The emails threatened to "come after" voters who didn’t vote for President Donald Trump. Director of National Intelligence John Ratcliffe said the activity was aimed at sowing chaos and confusion in advance of the contentious election.

Officials said the recent Russia activity was traced to at least September and had continued through this month.

So far, FBI and DHS officials said there was no information to support that hackers had "intentionally disrupted" aviation, education, elections or government operations.

"However, the actor may be seeking access to obtain future disruption options, to influence U.S. policies and actions, or to delegitimize (state and local government) entities," the bulletin warned.

In August, U.S. intelligence officials warned about the election-related activities of Russia, Iran and China.

In that bulletin, the chief of the National Counter-Intelligence and Security Center said that Russia was actively working to "denigrate" presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden, while China viewed Trump as "unpredictable" and preferred that he not win re-election.

The analysis also concluded that Iran was working to foment division and undermine Trump in advance of the 2020 election.

"Tehran’s motivation to conduct such activities is, in part, driven by a perception that President Trump’s re-election would result in a continuation of U.S. pressure on Iran," the analysis concluded, adding that Iran also feared that the Trump administration would push for regime change.

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Election 2020: New wave of Russian hacking efforts detected by officials