Cal­i­for­nia now says elec­tion sys­tems weren’t tar­geted

Ripon Bulletin - - Local/state -

SACRA­MENTO (AP) — Fed­eral of­fi­cials re­versed course this week on their as­ser­tion Rus­sian hack­ers tried to in­fil­trate Cal­i­for­nia’s state elec­tions sys­tems.

But Rus­sian hack­ers did try to worm into a net­work run by the Cal­i­for­nia Depart­ment of Tech­nol­ogy.

They were un­suc­cess­ful, depart­ment spokesman Bryce Brown said Wed­nes­day.

The fresh in­for­ma­tion comes after the U.S. Home­land Se­cu­rity Depart­ment told Cal­i­for­nia and 20 other states last week that cy­ber at­tack­ers from the Rus­sian govern­ment tar­geted their sys­tems “seek­ing vul­ner­a­bil­i­ties and ac­cess to U.S. elec­tion in­fra­struc­ture.” The depart­ment walked that back Tues­day in Cal­i­for­nia and Wis­con­sin, prompt­ing con­fu­sion among state of­fi­cials al­ready frus­trated by the fed­eral govern­ment’s de­lay in shar­ing in­for­ma­tion about the 2016 elec­tion.

In Cal­i­for­nia’s case, the hack­ers’ scan ac­tu­ally tar­geted a state-man­aged net­work that func­tions sim­i­larly to an in­ter­net ser­vice provider for lo­cal gov­ern­ments.

The scan oc­curred last sum­mer and was stopped as part of the Depart­ment of Tech­nol­ogy’s rou­tine cy­ber­se­cu­rity de­tec­tion sys­tems. The depart­ment was un­aware the scan by Rus­sians oc­curred un­til fed­eral of­fi­cials said so this week, Brown said.

“Although we did not have knowl­edge of the source un­til now, we have con­firmed our se­cu­rity sys­tems worked as planned and the ac­tiv­ity was blocked as it hap­pened in 2016,” Brown said in a state­ment. “We con­tinue to mon­i­tor this sit­u­a­tion and work with fed­eral part­ners to en­sure that the state’s data, net­works and sys­tems re­main se­cure.”

In both Cal­i­for­nia and Wis­con­sin, the hack­ers could’ve been aim­ing for elec­tion sys­tems even though they tar­geted other de­part­ments. Scott McCon­nell, a Home­land Se­cu­rity spokesman, said “dis­cus­sions of spe­cific IP ad­dresses do not pro­vide a com­plete pic­ture of po­ten­tial tar­get­ing ac­tiv­ity.”

Cal­i­for­nia Sec­re­tary of State Alex Padilla crit­i­cized the fed­eral govern­ment for not pro­vid­ing timely and ac­cu­rate in­for­ma­tion on the at­tempted Rus­sian med­dling. But he said Cal­i­for­ni­ans should feel con­fi­dent that the state’s elec­tion sys­tems were not briefed.

“Cal­i­for­nia vot­ers can fur­ther rest as­sured that the Cal­i­for­nia Sec­re­tary of State elec­tions in­fra­struc­ture and web­sites were not hacked or breached by Rus­sian cy­ber ac­tors,” he said.

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