Minnesota's top election official says our state was one of those targeted by Russians hoping to influence the 2016 U.S. election.
Secretary of State Steve Simon says he got a call from the Department of Homeland Security Friday telling him that Minnesota was one of the 21 states targeted by Russia. But Simon said in a statement he was assured by DHS there was no security breach of the election system.
Simon's statement does not use the term hackers, but says he was told "entities acting at the behest of the Russian government" scanned IP addresses of the Secretary of State's office looking for vulnerabilities. He says DHS told him that's as far as it went.
According to Simon the Secretary of State's computers had already identified the IP addresses that were scanning the system and had blocked them. He says that kind of scanning by outsiders "happens every day."
Wisconsin on the list, too
Intelligence agencies told Congress this summer that Russia had targeted 21 states as it tried to influence the outcome of the presidential election.
In their June testimony agents said Russian interference had not affected any ballots or vote counting. But no one named the targeted states at that time.
On Friday state officials around the country – including Wisconsin – were getting calls like the one Simon received, telling them they were on Russia's list.
The administrator of the Wisconsin Election Commission, Michael Haas, said in a statement: “This scanning had no impact on Wisconsin’s systems or the election. Internet security provided by the state successfully protected our systems."
Haas said the chair of the election commission ordered staff to investigate why the state was not told earlier about the attempt.