Speed Reads

Russian election meddling

Russia's 2016 election hacking was deeper, wider than reported, hitting 39 states

Russia's cyber-meddling in the 2016 election "was far more widespread than has been publicly revealed, including incursions into voter databases and software systems in almost twice as many states as previously reported," Bloomberg News reports, citing "three people with direct knowledge of the U.S. investigation into the matter." One of the sources said 39 states were hit by Russian cyberattacks in the summer and fall of 2016, and "the scope and sophistication so concerned Obama administration officials that they took an unprecedented step" in October, Bloomberg reports: "complaining directly to Moscow over a modern-day 'red phone.'"

The report reinforces and adds details to the NSA documents leaked to The Intercept, alongside Sen. Mark Warner's (D-Va.) vague assertion that the Russian cyberattacks are "broader than has been reported so far." Starting with Illinois, investigators uncovered evidence that Russian hackers had unsuccessfully tried to alter or erase some information in voter databases, suggesting that Russian intelligence was preparing to disrupt or attempt to discredit the election, not just release well-timed information on Hillary Clinton's associates and the Democratic National Committee, Bloomberg reports:

That idea would obsess the Obama White House throughout the summer and fall of 2016, outweighing worries over the DNC hack and private Democratic campaign emails given to Wikileaks and other outlets, according to one of the people familiar with those conversations. The Homeland Security Department dispatched special teams to help states strengthen their cyber defenses, and some states hired private security companies to augment those efforts. [Bloomberg News]

The attacks on the 2016 election did not succeed in disrupting the vote, the sources say, but they do "paint a worrisome picture for future elections: The newest portrayal of potentially deep vulnerabilities in the U.S.'s patchwork of voting technologies comes less than a week after former FBI Director James Comey warned Congress that Moscow isn't done meddling." You can read more at Bloomberg News.