ABC, CBS Blackout FBI Warning of Election System Hackings

The fear of a cyber-attack on the American election system seemed close to being realized Monday with a dire warning from FBI. “There’s late word tonight that the FBI is warning state election officials to pay more attention to the security of their voting systems in response to recent hacking attacks that are just now coming to light,” reported fill-in anchor Savannah Guthrie on NBC Nightly News. NBC was the only network to share the FBI’s warning, while ABC and CBS failed to mention it at all.

“This comes after an attempt at hacks into two election systems this summer,” explained NBC’s Justice Correspondent Pete Williams, “So the FBI has issued an advisory urging the state to look for specific signs that could indicate attempts at similar cyber-attacks.”

According to Williams, the hackers managed to gain access to Illinois’ online voter registration system and copied a series of files. There was also another hacking attempt, this time in Arizona, but the hackers failed to gain access to their systems. Because of these cyber-attacks, “The FBI has issued an advisory urging the states to look for specific signs that could indicate attempts at similar cyber-attacks,” Williams stated. He also noted that US officials suspect that Russian hackers are behind the attacks.

And the FBI warning goes beyond just voter registration systems:

But of most concern, of course, are the separate computer systems that count and report actual votes. So far no sign that any of those have been compromised, but the FBI says states should be on guard to protect against computer attacks that could jeopardize the integrity of their elections.

Transcript below:

NBC
Nightly News
August 29, 2016
7:11:52 PM Eastern 

SAVANNAH GUTHRIE: There’s late word tonight that the FBI is warning state election officials to pay more attention to the security of their voting systems in response to recent hacking attacks that are just now coming to light. Our Justice Correspondent Pete Williams is on the story tonight from Washington. Hi Pete, what can you tell us?

PETE WILLIAMS: Well Savannah, this comes after an attempt at hacks into two election systems this summer. So the FBI has issued an advisory urging the states to look for specific signs that could indicate attempts at similar cyber-attacks. In July, hackers got successfully into the computer system that Illinois uses for online voter registration, copied some files but apparently didn't change anything and they apparently tried and failed to do the same thing in Arizona. Several US officials say the Russians seem to have been behind both cyber-attacks. But of most concern, of course, are the separate computer systems that count and report actual votes. So far no sign that any of those have been compromised, but the FBI says states should be on guard to protect against computer attacks that could jeopardize the integrity of their elections.


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