The US Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has denied a media report saying Russian operatives penetrated the websites or databases of Alaska, Arizona, California, Florida, Illinois, Texas and Wisconsin ahead of the 2016 presidential election.
The denial comes after an NBC News report quoted a US official as saying that an analysis requested by former President Obama in the last weeks of his administration showed Russia breached voter sites or registration systems in those states.
“NBC’s reporting tonight on the 2016 elections is not accurate and is actively undermining efforts of the Department of Homeland Security to work in close partnership with state and local governments to protect the nation’s election systems from foreign actors,” DHS acting Press Secretary Tyler Q. Houlton said in a statement.
The US officials in the NBC report said several states were warned about the breaches before the 2016 election, but none were told that Moscow was behind it.
“We have no intelligence – new or old – that corroborates NBC’s reporting that systems in seven states were compromised by Russian government actors. We believe tonight’s story to be factually inaccurate and misleading,” a DHS statement said, dismissing the report.
Six of the seven targeted states deny they were breached, based on their own investigations, the NBC reported said. All state and federal officials that spoke with the news outlet said that votes were not tampered with.
This is not the first NBC report on possible Russian hacking that has drawn criticism from the DHS. Earlier this month, the agency rebuffed an NBC report claiming Russian hackers had “successfully penetrated” US voter systems before the election.
The latest report comes as US officials warn that Russia will likely attempt to meddle in the 2018 midterms.
The Department last year informed all 50 states whether they had been targeted or not prior to the 2016 election. Twenty-one states were targeted, most of them unsuccessfully, according to the agency.
Three-fourths of Americans in a poll released on Monday said they believed Russia would try to influence future American elections and 60 percent said Trump was not doing enough to address this threat. (ANI)