US vote count unaffected by cyberattacks, officials say

WASHINGTON – Digital interference is not known to have affected the count interim vote after a tense election day that saw officials closely monitor domestic and foreign threats.

Some state and local governments appeared to be hit by a relatively rudimentary form of cyberattacks that regularly rendered public websites inaccessible. But US and local officials said Wednesday that none had breached vote-counting infrastructure.

“We have seen no evidence of any electoral system having votes erased or lost, votes altered, or compromised in any way in any race in the country,” Jen Easterly, director of the US Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Agency, said in a statement.

CISA and other federal agencies had warned against securing US elections has become more complex than ever, with the heaviest threats from domestic sources. Foreign opponents like Russia, China and Iran have tried interfere in individual campaigns and reinforce false or misleading social media narratives.

Many members of an increasingly recalcitrant American public have grown accustomed to it unproven conspiracies about voter fraud. And there are constant fears that state-sponsored intruders or criminals might try disrupt voter lists or steal data for ransom. Also of concern are the increasing physical and online threats to poll workers.

Votes are still being counted across the country, and winners have not yet been determined in some key races that will decide control of the House and Senate.

“It is important to remember that this thorough and deliberative process can take days or weeks depending on state law; These rigorous procedures are why the American people can have confidence in the security and integrity of the election,” Easterly said in a statement.

The Mississippi Secretary of State’s website was partially down Tuesday, and there were other reports of websites down across the country, including in Champaign County, Illinois, and parts of Arkansas.

Mississippi appears to have been hit by a “distributed denial of service,” where a flood of inauthentic traffic renders a website inaccessible. Federal and state officials said they could not say who was responsible for the Mississippi attack or other denial-of-service incidents, despite a pro-Russian group urging social media platform Telegram to link its followers to the site to target

“While attribution is inherently difficult, we have seen no evidence that these are part of a widespread coordinated campaign,” an official with CISA, the Department of Homeland Security’s cybersecurity division, said in a Tuesday briefing. The officer spoke on condition of anonymity, according to rules set by the agency.

Analyst Alexander Leslie of cybersecurity firm Recorded Future called the attacks “negligible, at most a minor annoyance.”

The pro-Russian group that claimed responsibility for the demotion of Mississippi’s website also attempted to orchestrate an attack on democrats.org, run by the Democratic National Committee. There is no evidence the DNC’s website was affected, Leslie said.

Killnet, a far larger pro-Russian hacktivist group with 100,000 online followers, has cracked down some state governments and airport websites in OctoberHe did not organize online attempts to attack US electoral infrastructure.

That may be because such digital systems are “difficult targets to hit. CISA has pretty high cybersecurity standards,” Leslie said. “If they’re claiming a series of attacks that do absolutely nothing, it’s not looking good for Killnet.”

Republican Senator Scott DeLano of Mississippi is Legislative Counsel for the State Department of Information Technology Services. He told The Associated Press on Wednesday that Mississippi government websites face “hundreds, if not thousands” of attempted intruders every day — nothing unusual in today’s online world.

For example, the site’s inaccessibility meant that local residents could not use the site’s information about the location of electoral districts. DeLano said the secretary of state maintains a separate database for statewide voter registration information that was unaffected by the attack. Same-day election results are not posted on the Mississippi Secretary of State website, so those were unaffected as well.

In a statement, Secretary of State Michael Watson, a Republican, commended technology staff who “worked diligently to ensure the Mississippi election was safe, and through their hard work we can confidently say that our voting system has not been compromised.”

“We will continue to work to…ensure that we are prepared and have the resources necessary to address all attacks as cyberattacks increase in frequency and intelligence,” Watson said.

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Wagster Pettus reported from Jackson, Mississippi. AP Technology Writer Frank Bajak in Boston contributed to this report.

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Follow AP’s coverage of the 2022 midterm elections and learn more about the issues and factors at play in the midterm elections at https://apnews.com/hub/explaining-the-elections.

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https://www.local10.com/news/politics/2022/11/09/no-cyberattacks-affected-us-vote-counting-officials-say/ US vote count unaffected by cyberattacks, officials say

Sarah Y. Kim

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