Politics & Government

Russian hackers tried to compromise Texas in presidential election, officials confirm

Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered a campaign to influence the American presidential election in favor of electing Donald Trump, according to a report issued earlier this year by U.S. intelligence agencies. On Friday, the Department of Homeland Security contacted 21 states it said Russians tried to hack.
Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered a campaign to influence the American presidential election in favor of electing Donald Trump, according to a report issued earlier this year by U.S. intelligence agencies. On Friday, the Department of Homeland Security contacted 21 states it said Russians tried to hack. AP

Texas was one of 21 states Russian hackers attempted to compromise during the 2016 election, the Texas Secretary of State’s office confirmed to the Star-Telegram Friday. The state’s voter registration database was not targeted, and no voter data was compromised.

The Department of Homeland Security alerted Congress on June that 21 states had potentially been targeted, but, to the frustration of state election officials, did not specify which states. Instead, DHS officials notified the owners of the system affected.

Some networks were successfully compromised, and others were unsuccessful attempts.

On Friday, officials from the Department of Homeland Security contacted each state individually Friday to tell election officials whether they were targeted by Russia-based hackers.

“There was an attempt to find a vulnerability on our agency’s public-facing web site, which contains no voter information, but no vulnerabilities were found,” Texas Secretary of State communications director Sam Taylor said in a statement. “To date, we have received no information indicating any elections-related systems in Texas have been compromised by bad cyber actors.”

Friday was the first time individual states learned whether they’d been targeted.

A Homeland Security official, who spoke on condition of anonymity because the agency's election security efforts are confidential, said that in the majority of the 21 states, the Russians engaged only in “preparatory activity.”

“While attempts to compromise some state networks were unsuccessful, a small number of networks were successfully compromised,” the official said. “In no case, were the targeted systems involved in the tallying of votes.”

DFW media outlets have previously reported that Russians attempted to hack into the Dallas County voter registration rolls before the presidential election. But on Thursday, Star-Telegram partner WFAA reported that the alleged hacking attempt never happened.

Greg Gordon contributed to this report.

Andrea Drusch: @andreadrusch

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