Russians' Hacks Might be Leaving Door Open for Return

State and local government networks have been hit, US says
By Bob Cronin,  Newser Staff
Posted Oct 22, 2020 6:35 PM CDT
Russians' Hacks Might be Leaving Door Open for Return
An election worker pulls a stack of returned ballots from a sorting machine at the King County Elections office in Washington on Tuesday.   (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson, File)

Two US agencies are warning that Russian hackers are hitting dozens of state and local government networks, stealing data from at least two of them. The FBI and the Department of Homeland Security's Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency issued the alert Thursday, Politico reports. The hackers recently have attacked a variety of targets, the alert said, including aviation networks. There's no evidence that any government or aviation operations have been disrupted, the agencies said, or that "integrity of elections data has been compromised." It's possible that the hackers are just trying to get in the door of computer networks now, so they can return later to take and release data in an effort to disrupt the US political process, including voting.

US intelligence operations have breached Russian networks, allowing them to see evidence of plans to interfere just before or just after the Nov. 3 election, per the New York Times. US officials said the goal would be to help President Trump. An Iranian operation was revealed Wednesday night by the FBI and intelligence directors. But Russia is the bigger threat, experts said. One American intelligence official said Iranian effort was comparable to single-A baseball, while the Russians are major leaguers. Both nations are capable of pulling off "perception hacks," which make it look like they have more access to US systems than they do. That could prompt charges of voter fraud after the election. In fact, Russia can't do much to change votes in US systems, intelligence officials said. (More Russian hackers stories.)

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