Russian hacking incident prompts audit of state election system

Hackers attempted to compromise 2016 presidential election in 21 states.

Ian Bush
June 11, 2018 - 3:12 pm

Dreamstime

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PHILADELPHIA (KYW Newsradio) — Russian hackers tried to attack Pennsylvania's election in the run-up to the 2016 presidential vote. 

Now, the Wolf administration says it's taking action to secure the next election. 

"Hackers targeted voter registry systems. Fortunately, at least to the best of our understanding, they were not successful in Pennsylvania," said Pennsylvania Auditor General Eugene DePasquale.

Groups linked to the Kremlin tried to compromise the vote in Pennsylvania and 20 other states, according to the Department of Homeland Security. DePasquale has started an investigation to examine the election process — though not the results of the vote — back to at least January 2016.

"We will complete the audit in time so the Department of State and counties can implement any recommendations prior to the 2020 presidential election," he said.

Pennsylvania's aging voter registration system will be tested for security and accuracy. Acting Secretary of the Commonwealth Robert Torres said it's happening alongside constant checks by the feds.

"They scan our systems to advise us if they're seeing any vulnerabilities within our public-facing websites," he said.

The legislature has been considering a bill that would have prompted the state audit, but officials argued they couldn't wait any longer.

They act like burglars going house-to-house testing the locks, but Torres emphasized there are "several layers of protection to guard against that type of activity."

"It's just so important that we put some integrity back in the system," added state Sen. Kim Ward.