On Friday of last week, the state of Wisconsin was notified by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) that their election system had been targeted by the Russians. They were among 21 states that were told the Russians had manipulated things like voting machines and possibly tampered with vote outcomes.
The Democrats seemed to jump on this recent report of Russian hacking and chaos ensued. Many states, including Wisconsin, went to work to see just where the Russian hackers got into the system In a matter of days, it became apparent that there was no hacking and in Wisconsin, there was not even a case to prove that anyone manipulated the recent vote. State officials verified this was a mistake and the only hacking issue was tied to an IP address well beyond their voting system.
After state officials began asking questions about the sudden news release saying that 21 states were hacked by the Russians, DHS made a stunning choice. Yesterday, they reversed their original statement and shared that the hacking never occurred. This was, in fact, a mistake that was used to further the Democrats agenda.
A recent report about the initial announcement describes the scene on Friday of last week:
“Just in time for the weekend, the Associated Press reported on Friday that the Department of Homeland Security had notified 21 states earlier that day that their election systems had been targeted by malicious cyber actors. The states and DHS quickly jumped to the conclusion that Russia had ordered the cyberattacks, even though it was reported that the identity or identities of the perpetrators were inconclusive Yet, the news spread like wildfire after readers had been primed as reports of possible infiltartion of state election systems had circulated for nearly a year. Even so, for many states, the call Friday from the Department of Homeland Security was the first official confirmation that their election systems had, in fact, been targeted by hackers.
Federal officials said that in most of the 21 states, the targeting was preparatory activity such as scanning computer systems.”
Officers from DHS notified officials in each of the 21 states that their systems had been hacked. The state of Wisconsin was the first to speak out about this accusation and also the reversal that occurred yesterday. According to a news report about the exchange between a DHS official and the state:
“Based on our external analysis, the WI IP address affected belongs to the WI Department of Workforce Development, not the Elections Commission,” said the email from Juan Figueroa, with Homeland Security’s Office of Infrastructure Protection.
It wasn’t immediately known if Homeland Security made similar mistakes with any of the other 20 states. Figueroa did not immediately reply to an email seeking an explanation of how the mistake was made.
Homeland Security initially told the Elections Commission that the Russians scanned the state’s internet-connected election infrastructure, likely seeking specific vulnerabilities to access voter registration databases.
Either they were right on Friday and this is a cover up, or they were wrong on Friday and we deserve an apology,” Mark Thomsen, the commission’s chairman, said in light of the new email.”
It is not clear at this time how many of the other states involved received similar feedback this week. Officials in Wisconsin are still trying to piece together the chaos that came after this outlandish alarm. Local government offices were in shock as before Friday there was no indication that there was ever a threat from Russia.
This suddenly became an issue late last week, and now it is magically not an issue. There is still some confusion about why this happened and what it means for future security. According to a report from Wisconsin’s chief elections administrator Michael Haas:
“Wisconsin was not provided any information that indicated before the November election that Russian government actors were targeting election systems,” Haas said. He said one theory is that Homeland Security saw suspicious activity from IP addresses targeting state election systems in other states and assumed that was the intent in Wisconsin as well.
Others were apparently in shock: “It’s been a difficult process trying to piece all of this together,” said Wisconsin Elections Commission spokesman Reid Magney. “We’re trying to understand what happened.”
Furthermore, Wisconsin’s chief information officer, David Cagigal, told the elections commission that Wisconsin had never been told by Homeland Security, prior to the Friday notice, that Russians had targeted Wisconsin’s election system or anything else. Deputy information officer, Herb Thompson, said Homeland Security told the state in October to check on a certain IP address that the state had blocked from accessing its systems in August 2016.”