In advance of the 2016 election, state election boards have been strongly warned to tighten up security. This warning came from the FBI’s Cyber Division after hackers accessed voter information. The Amber-level warning regarding security levels came after hackers were successful in stealing voter data from one state and failed in another attempt this month.
The Flash warning doesn’t explicitly cite which states’ databases were affected. However, back in July, Illinois’ voter registration database was hacked and subsequently was shut down for two weeks. The Illinois Board of Elections has blamed the incident on “foreign hackers,” but of course, this can be difficult to pin down. The unsuccessful attempt was aimed at Arizona’s voter information.
The bulletin cited IP addresses that traced back to server hosting companies in England, the Netherlands, Scotland and the United States. That said, hackers could have rented severs from other companies in order to disguise their work.
With this warning comes precautionary measures that the FBI highly encourages state election officials to undertake in order to secure their systems from any future attacks. Technical recommendations include conducting vulnerability scans on related voting or government websites, paying attention to website hosting providers, ensuring software and applications are completely patched and validating user input before forwarding it to the database.
Earlier this month, members of the Senate Homeland Security Committee deliberately asked the federal government to assess efforts to secure U.S. election systems and voting machines.
Some experts are looking straight at Russia for these attempts and breaches. Russian officials, however, have rejected any accusations of political hacking.