I t was mid-July 2016 when Neil Jenkins learned that someone had hacked the Illinois Board of Elections. Jenkins was a director in the Office of Cybersecurity and Communications at the Department of Homeland Security, the domestic agency with a congressional mandate to protect "critical infrastructure." Although election systems were not yet formally designated as such — that wouldn't happen until January 2017 — it was increasingly clear that the presidential election was becoming a national-security issue. Just a month before, Americans had been confronted with the blockbuster revelation that Russian government actors had hacked the Democratic National Committee's servers and stolen private email and opposition research against Donald Trump, the Republican presidential candidate. And now, it emerged, someone was trying to infiltrate the election system itself. The Illinois intruders had quietly breached the network in June and spent weeks conducting reconnaissance. After alighting on the state's voter-registration database, they downloaded information on hundreds of thousands of voters. Then something went wrong, and the attackers crashed a server, alerting officials to their presence. It soon became clear that this would not be the last attack. In early August, Jenkins learned of another breach, this one on an Arizona state website,… Read full this story
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