Forget the states that swung the election, South Carolina went for Donald Trump with nearly 55 percent of the vote and hackers still bombarded its registration system nearly 150,000 times on Election Day alone. The revelation from the state’s election commission provides some insight into just how extensive the 2016 hacking efforts were and will be again in 2018. The Wall Street Journal’s Alexa Corse writes:
In harder-fought Illinois, for instance, hackers were hitting the State Board of Elections “5 times per second, 24 hours per day” from late June until Aug. 12, 2016, when the attacks ceased for unknown reasons, according to an Aug. 26, 2016, report by the state’s computer staff. Hackers ultimately accessed approximately 90,000 voter records, the State Board of Elections said.
Unlike in Illinois, South Carolina didn’t see evidence that any attempted penetration succeeded, said Chris Whitmire, the State Election Commission’s director of
information and training, last week. Most of the attempted intrusions in that state likely came from automated computer bots, not thousands of individual hackers.
In Illinois, election staff determined that hackers breached some 90,000 voter records, and the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has found evidence that hackers targeted at least 21 states, though other reports suggest that’s a conservative estimate.
In Illinois, the computer staff at the State Board of Elections noticed on July 12 that the activity of its server for the voter-registration database “had spiked to 100% with no explanation,” according to the state’s report.
Around mid-August, the FBI sent a “flash” alert to all state election officials regarding hacking attempts and DHS offered to help states secure their systems. South Carolina was one of 33 states and 36 locales that accepted that help. In addition, the state hired a private cybersecurity firm to administer on-site assessments at county election offices.