In February of 2017, several States accused the DHS of trying to hack their state electoral systems during the previous months. Indiana, Ohio, Georgia, Idaho all claimed that the DHS had performed security scans of their networks without permission. Kentucky and West Virginia also reported evidence of DHS “security scans” but said that the work was previously authorized. It seems that the scans were not originated by the DHS but by Russian-linked hacking groups.
In June of 2017, DHS cybersecurity official Jeanette Manfra confirmed that the Department had determined as early as October 2016, “that Internet-connected election-related networks, including websites, in 21 states were potentially targeted by Russian government cyber actors.” In a US Senate Intelligence Committee hearing in July, DHS officials claimed, “the owners of the systems within those 21 states have been notified.” But that is misleading. The DHS does not disclose which States it notified, but some of those states coming forward admit they were not notified until after the July Committee meeting.
Understandably, many people are critical of how long it took the DHS to notify potentially impacted States:
JUST IN: “Russian government cyber actors” unsuccessfully attempted to hack 2016 election results in Wisconsin, DHS tells state officials pic.twitter.com/PMd6Gj5z4b
— NBC Politics (@NBCPolitics) September 22, 2017
“It’s unacceptable that it took almost a year after the election to notify states that their elections systems were targeted, but I’m relieved that DHS has acted upon our numerous request,” said Virginia Senator Mark Warner, the Intelligence Committee’s top Democrat, who is helping lead the Senate’s investigation into Russia’s election meddling.