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article imageOp-Ed: Homeland Security claims 21 state election systems hack targets

By Ken Hanly     Sep 28, 2017 in Technology
The United States Department of Homeland Security notified 21 states that hackers had targeted their election systems in 2016 but none of the systems were used for recording votes. Only a small number of networks were actually breached.
Scott McConnell spokesperson for Homeland Security said: "As part of our ongoing information sharing efforts, today DHS notified the Secretary of State or other chief election officer in each state of any potential targeting we were aware of in their state leading up to the 2016 election."
The U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) is a cabinet department of the US federal government. Its responsibilities include public security and its mission involves counter-terrorism, border security, immigration, customs, cybersecurity and disaster prevention and management. It was created as a response to the 9/11 terror attacks. As of 2017 it had 229,000 employees and an annual budget of $40.6 billion.
The vote counting systems were unaffected since they are not connected to the Internet. However, the news provides one more worry about the security of the U.S. voting system. The news also is released as Homeland Security is continuing its investigation into Russia's intervention in the U.S. election. Many U.S. intelligence agencies claim that Russia tried to intervene in the election in favor of Trump. Recently, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg revealed that his organization would hand over to the U.S. Congress thousands of election-related ads believed to be paid for by Russian agents.
Attempts by foreign countries to influence elections is hardly new. The U.S. does it all the time and Russia often does as well. According to one study the U.S. intervened in 81 foreign elections between 1946 and 2000 while the USSR and then Russia intervened in 36. Often the US is even more involved in regime change as in the Ukraine.
There is the infamous tape of Victoria Nuland speaking with the U.S. ambassador to the Ukraine about the way forward:
The situation ended up with a Ukrainian government favorable to the U.S. Natalie Jaresko a U.S. citizen was made Minister of Finance and served from December 2014 to April 2016. To serve she had to become a Ukrainian citizen which she did on the day she took office. However, the Ukraine does not permit dual citizenship so she had to renounce her U.S. citizenship within two years. She didn't. In March of 2016 President Obama appointed her Executive Director of the U.S. Federal Fiscal Control Board of Puerto Rico.
The U.S. has long been a country that has forced regime changes on other countries dating back into the 19th century. As Wikipedia notes: In the latter half of the 19th century, the U.S. government undertook regime change actions mainly in Latin America and the southwest Pacific, and included the Mexican-American, Spanish-American and Philippine-American wars. At the onset of the 20th century the United States shaped or installed friendly governments in many countries including Panama, Honduras, Nicaragua, Mexico, Haiti, and the Dominican Republic.
This isn't the first time that hackers tried to get into state election systems before the 2016 presidential elections, which Donald Trump won amid fears of Russian influenc. According to reports from last September, the U.S. government informed election officials that hackers targeted the election systems of more than 20 states, and successfully infiltrated those of four unnamed states. McConnell didn't specify whether the hacking attempts reported today were different from the ones states heard about last year.
Perhaps, the new announcements are simply part of a propaganda campaign to boost the fortunes of those in and out of government who want to paint Russia as the enemy and see any attempt to improve relations with Russia as a betrayal. Trump campaigned on a promise to improve relations with Russia but as of now relations of the U.S. with Russia are as bad as they have ever been and Trump and his campaign are under investigation as perhaps colluding with Russia's attempts to influence the U.S. election.
This opinion article was written by an independent writer. The opinions and views expressed herein are those of the author and are not necessarily intended to reflect those of
More about 2016 elections, russian influence on elections, Homeland Security
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