The FBI has issued a warning to election officials across the United States to harden their computer systems as they uncovered evidence that foreign hackers had penetrated two state election databases in recent weeks according to Yahoo News. The states which were not officially identified are speculated to be the states of Arizona and Illinois. In Arizona, malicious software was detected in its voter registration system and in Illinois, officials shuttered the statewide Illinois Voter Registration System for 10 days in July after personal data on up to 200,000 state voters was stolen.
The FBI bulletin listed eight separate IP addresses that were linked to the attacks and suspects that the two attacks were came from the same source. Rich Barger, Chief Intelligence Officer for ThreatConnect, a cybersecurity firm in response to Yahoo News’ request to review the FBI alert noted that one of the IP addresses on the FBI list has surfaced before in Russian criminal underground forums and that the method of the attack resembles methods used in other suspected Russian state-sponsored attacks.
On the motivation for the attacks, Vishal Gupta, CEO of Seclore told SCMagazine that intelligence gathering might be the prime motivation for the attacks and further stated that the attacks were “a stark reminder that defending data being stored in our systems is oftentimes more critical than historically unreliable network defenses.”