A top American official who has been charged with protecting the integrity of US electoral systems from cyber-attacks has said that Russians penetrated the US voter register successfully in a number of US states before the presidential election of 2016. Jeanette Manfra, who serves as the head of Cybersecurity at the Homeland Security Department said in an interview with one of the media houses that she did not have the authorization to speak publicly about information that had been classified. However, Manfra said that there was infiltration of voter information systems by Russians in the 2016 presidential election with only a few of them were successful.
The former Secretary in-charge of Homeland Security at the time of the Russian intrusion, Jeh Johnson said that the cyber-attack from the Kremlin during the 2016 presidential elections was a wake-up call to the United States. Mr. Johnson added that it was incumbent upon both federal and state authorities to put strategies in place that would prevent an attack on the world’s biggest democracy. He added that the DHS was by then able to determine that the probing and scanning of voter registration databases was originating from the government of Russia.
There were reports in September last year in mainstream media that the Kremlin had successfully compromised the integrity of electoral databases in 20 states in the US. However, according to US officials, there is no evidence of the infiltration of the voter registry by any form or fashion from the Russian Cyber-attack. According to a poll carried out by Survey monkey, 79% of all the respondents who were involved in the survey said that they were concerned about the system security of the voter databases and whether they were susceptible to computer hacks. Before leaving office on January 17, 2017, Secretary Johnson declared that the US electoral system was part of the critical structures that had to be protected by the federal government.
Critical infrastructure protection is a designation that is accorded to entities like the national power grid which could be prone to attacks. This announcement that was made early last year made it an official duty for the Department of homeland security to protect the American electoral systems and databases. Former secretary Johnson raised concerns that the 21 states whose electoral databases were compromised in the 2016 presidential elections have put very little to no efforts in putting up a measure that would tighten the cybersecurity of these systems.