Hackers reportedly target election officials, voter data ahead of midterms

And they've apparently had "limited success."

Marrian Zhou Staff Reporter
Marrian Zhou is a Beijing-born Californian living in New York City. She joined CNET as a staff reporter upon graduation from Columbia Journalism School. When Marrian is not reporting, she is probably binge watching, playing saxophone or eating hot pot.
Marrian Zhou
2 min read
Voting booths

The voting booths are ready for the midterm elections.

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Voters aren't the only ones focused on the midterm elections.

Hackers have targeted voter registration databases, election officials and networks across the country, according to Department of Homeland Security election threat reports obtained by The Boston Globe. They've had "limited success" in those activities, the reports indicate.

Government agencies have logged more than 160 reports of suspected interference in the US elections since Aug. 1, according to the Globe. In recent weeks, the pace of suspicious activity has increased to as many as 10 incidents a day, according to the report.

The DHS threat reports show states have flagged attempts by foreign hackers to steal voter data and access email accounts from state offices, according to the Globe. Other incidents reportedly include injections of malicious computer code and bogus requests for voter registration forms.

The agency acknowledged the problem generally, but not in any specifics.

"While we are aware of cyber actors targeting election infrastructure, the tactics used in these activities are common and not unique to election systems," said Scott McConnell, a DHS spokesperson, in an email statement. "To be clear, we have not attributed any of this activity to a nation-state, nor do we have any reason to believe it to be part of a broader campaign."

Each state in the US has databases of information on registered voters, including their names, home addresses, phone numbers, dates of birth, gender, race and more. Voter data is regularly sold to political campaigns and organizations, but some states share it with anyone who requests it.

Election security has been a national priority since hacks by Russia in 2016 interfered with the election that year, but many experts say issues won't be fixed in time for the midterms.

Election security: Everything you need to know about election security in the 2018 US midterm elections.

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