A new report from the FBI and the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) confirms that Russian attempts to influence the 2016 election were much more widespread than previously believed.
According to OODA Loop, a newsletter covering U.S. intelligence agencies, a Joint Intelligence Bulletin issued by both the FBI and the DHS this week found that the initial estimate of Russian hackers attempting to compromise voting systems in 21 states fell far short of what actually took place.
“[New information] indicates that Russian government cyber actors engaged in research on—as well as direct visits to—election websites and networks in the majority of US states,” the bulletin read. “The FBI and DHS assess that Russian government cyber actors probably conducted research and reconnaissance against all US states’ election networks leading up to the 2016 Presidential elections.”
The intelligence bulletin, which was not classified, gave no specific details about how Russian hackers allegedly attempted to compromise voting systems. However, when contacted by tech news site Ars Technica, a DHS spokesperson re-stated the intelligence bulletin’s conclusion that the Kremlin sought to compromise election infrastructure in every single state.
“We assume the Russian government researched and in some cases targeted election infrastructure in all 50 states in an attempt to sow discord and influence the 2016 election,” the DHS spokesperson said.
The bulletin comes not long after Attorney General William Barr issued a summary of Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s 300-page report on the two-year investigation into Trump and Russia, stating that the theory of Russian collusion with the Trump campaign was unfounded and that President Trump did not obstruct justice. Barr has still not released the Mueller report to the public as of this writing.
In February, the DHS warned that Russia was planning to interfere in the 2020 presidential election on an even larger scale, with possibly other countries like China also engaging in cyber warfare to meddle in the election. An unnamed DHS official told the Daily Beast that the 2020 election was shaping up to be “a perfect storm” in terms of foreign actors attempting to influence the outcome.
Tom Cahill is a contributor for Grit Post who covers political and economic news. He lives in Bend, Oregon. Send him an email at tom DOT v DOT cahill AT gmail DOT com.