There were almost 150,000 attempts to penetrate South Carolina’s voter-registration system by hackers on Election Day last year, according to a State Election Commission study, The Wall Street Journal reported on Sunday.
The report suggests that hackers may have targeted swing states even more, considering that South Carolina was a non-competitive race easily won by Donald Trump in his victorious presidential campaign.
This conjecture is further bolstered because officials from the Department of Homeland Security said that Russian hackers targeted election-related systems in at least 21 states in the run-up to the voting.
One such case was in Illinois, where hackers managed to access some 90,000 voter record during the election campaign, according to the State Board of Elections.
In one specific example cited in an Illinois State Board of Elections report, the computer staff noticed on July 12 that the activity of its server for the voter-registration database “had spiked to 100 percent with no explanation.”
South Carolina State Election official Chris Whitmire told The Wall Street Journal that although “Security has been a top priority… since implementing the statewide voting system in 2004… events leading up to the 2016 General Election, including the breaches of other states’ voter-registration systems, created an election-security environment that was very different.”
Although the attempts to penetrate South Carolina’s system were not successful, the Department of Homeland Security did discover, spread out among four internet-connected devices used by the State Election Commission, 55 vulnerabilities, which is the virtual equivalent of unlocked doors.
Whitmore said that if a hacker successfully exploited these vulnerabilities, he could have tampered with the agency’s public-facing website, which “would severely damage our public’s trust.”
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