[The Daily Caller] — Department of Homeland Security (DHS) officials tried to hack Indiana’s state electoral system with at least 14,800 “scans” or hits between Nov. 1, 2016, to Dec. 16, 2016, The Daily Caller News Foundation Investigative Group has learned.
The attacks are the second confirmed IT scanning assault by DHS officials against states that resisted then-President Barack Obama’s attempt to increase federal involvement in state and local election systems by designating them as “critical infrastructure” for national security.
Members of the National Association of Secretaries of State voted Saturday at their winter meeting to oppose the designation. They are asking President Donald Trump to overturn it. (RELATED: State Officials Want Trump To Reverse Obama’s Last-Minute Election Power Grab)
Former Indiana Gov. Mike Pence was also Trump’s vice presidential-elect during much of the period covered by the DHS scans of the Indiana system.
Indiana Secretary of State Connie Lawson, the incoming president of the association, told TheDCNF Tuesday that, “we know that between November 1 and December 16 we were scanned with about 14,800 scans, nearly 15,000 different times.”
The state’s IT team traced the intruder to a DHS computer’s IP address. The same DHS unit attempted 10 times in 2016 to hack into the Georgia electoral system.
Federal officials are barred under DHS rules from trying to penetrate a state system without the express approval of the state. Neither Georgia nor Indiana approved the DHS scanning attempts.
The DHS inspector general has launched an official investigation into the Georgia breach attempt.
Thomas Vessely, IT director for the Indiana secretary of state, told TheDCNF that “we kindly declined [DHS] assistance because we were very comfortable in the work we were doing in monitoring our election system.”
Lawson said she “always assumed it was because I was the incoming President of the National Association of Secretaries of State and because we declined their assistance.”
Georgia Secretary of State Brian Kemp told TheDCNF Jan. 24, 2016, he was suspicious because four of the 10 attacks against the Georgia election network occurred as he was about to talk to DHS officials, or coincided with his public testimony opposing the critical infrastructure designation.
“It’s certainly concerning about the dates,” Kemp said.
Kemp hopes the IG can determine if the hacks were timed to intimidate him.
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