election hack

We Now Know that Russians Hacked at Least Two Counties in 2016

rick desantis

These are only my opinions and not the representation of Saintel Daily, LLC.

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis was informed by the FBI that two counties in his state were, in fact, breached by Russian hackers during the 2016 Presidential election. This confirms the information in special counsel Robert Mueller’s report that suggested “at least one” county had been successfully attacked. After a briefing by the FBI, DeSantis released a statement indicating that two counties “experienced intrusion into the supervisor of elections network.” What might surprise many of you is that no data had been altered and the entire hack “had no effect” on the vote totals. I wonder if that’s even true, or if that’s a way to appease the public?

I mean, let’s think about that. What if the outcome (for any election) was to say that it was hacked and whoever did the hacking interfered with the results? How would citizens know they were safe in a democracy? This would mean that anything is possible, and no elected officials could be trusted.

“The FBI also provided assurance that investigators did not detect any adversary activity that impacted vote counts or disrupted electoral processes during the 2016 or 2018 elections. The FBI and DHS continues to work with elections officials and our local, state and federal partners to proactively share information in a concerted effort to protect elections networks in Florida, and across the country, from adversary activity.”

Rick DeSantis, Governor, Florida

The two counties in question were likely breached through a spearphishing attack. This occurs due to Russian military intelligence specifically targeting election officials. The emails sent would have tricked these officials into entering their passwords. While this might sound like common sense, if they were targeting election officials specifically, then these emails would have been extremely convincing.

We first learned that at least one county in Florida had been breached by hackers once we saw the Muller report, which was released last month. The FBI is scheduled to brief Florida members of Congress about these attacks this week. But if the FBI knows about this now, it makes you wonder how long they’ve actually been privy to this information? Presumably, a while, since this information was contained in the Muller report.

What you might find interesting is that after DeSantis was briefed by the FBI, he was required to sign a nondisclosure agreement saying that he wouldn’t name the counties that were hacked. Why this is interesting is that DeSantis himself was critical of the federal government who refused to release this information. The government reason for all of this is that if the counties are named, this might reveal information to the perpetrators that officials are aware of what they did. So what’s better? Telling the world that the United States knows that Russians hacked at least two counties during the 2016 Presidential election? Or letting on like we don’t know?

Is keeping this kind of secret more of an issue for U.S. citizens? An election is one of the most basic, democratic processes in the western world. To say that officials won’t be open and transparent about those processes suggest that something else is going on. But there are two issues here – one is the political/electoral issue, and the second is the fact that the election could be hacked. What does that say about the kind of technology that is being used? Perhaps the Trump administration should stop asking for billions of dollars to fund a border wall and think about ways to improve technology in order to ensure a hack-free election. That is just my opinion, and an idea that is unlikely to go anywhere.