Leaked NSA Doc Highlights Deep Flaws in US Election System


08 June, 2017

"We are only aware of a handful of our customers who actually received the fraudulent email and of those, we have no indication that any of them clicked on the attachment or were compromised as a result", it reads.

The NSA report adds significant new detail to previous US intelligence assessments that alleged Russia-backed hackers had compromised elements of America's electoral machinery.

The new revelations suggest that USA investigators are also still probing a more direct attempt to attack the election itself, and a federal official confirmed that is the case.

"Election integrity is very important to us here in Humboldt County and we're taking additional steps to make sure that nothing had been infiltrated", Sanders said.

"Our voting system, our touch screens, our tabulation screens - they're not even hackable because you can't even get to an internet site off of those machines", she said.

Volusia's Lewis said such hacking attempts erode the public's trust in the country's voting process.

Russian President Vladimir Putin has denied widely made allegations by US officials that Russia was involved in efforts to game the election. The Associated Press has not independently verified the authenticity of the report, although its apparent leaker, an NSA contract worker, was arrested last weekend in Georgia. If it had not been leaked, the public would still have nearly no inkling about how diligently Russian hackers worked to penetrate United States voting systems in the view of the USA intelligence community. The emails included an attached Microsoft Word document infected with malware that appeared to be a user manual but if opened could give hackers wide access to a computer. However, there is no evidence that hackers were able to manipulate votes, or the vote tally. In fact, experts had been warning for months before the 2016 election about exactly the type of attack that was revealed Monday in leaked NSA documents. Then, on October 31 or November 1, hackers sent emails to 122 email addresses associated with local governments from a fake address purporting to be VR Systems.

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The elections "department participated in an informational call with the Federal Bureau of Investigation related to elections security at the end of September 2016 where they alerted officials for the need to maintain security measures, but there was no indication of a Florida-specific issue".

Humboldt County's connection to VR Systems comes through the Texas-based company Hart InterCivic, Sanders said.

In a statement, VR Systems said its employees "immediately notified all our customers and advised them not to click on the attachment" when the company was first notified of the email.

The company makes software for on-site voter registration at polling stations and backend systems for voting management, according to its website, which says it has customers in California, Florida, Illinois, Indiana, New York, North Carolina, Virginia, and West Virginia.

The county has contracted with Hart InterCivic since 2013 to provide e-poll book technology, which Sanders said is used on election day to check voter registration statuses and voter history. The issue forced officials to abandon the system, issue paper ballots and extend voting hours. "Unless, someone goes in and begins to remove names from the voter registration system, when people show up to vote, forcing them to cast a provisional ballot or something that nature". Similarly, there need to be multiple databases of registered voters - including at least one hard copy - that allow people who file provisional ballots to have their votes counted.

According to the documents, the goal of the attack, which occurred last August, was "to obtain information on elections-related software and hardware solutions".

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