DALLAS - Dallas County was among the targets of Russian hackers who were trying to tamper with the 2016 presidential election, FOX 4 News has confirmed.
The county notified the Department of Homeland Security of more than a dozen attempts to access voter registration rolls leading up to November 8.
The Russian hacking effort was much more widespread than first thought. Bloomberg News reports cyber attackers targeted voter registration sites in at least 39 states.
In Illinois, hackers tried to delete or change voter data. In Florida, they tried to infiltrate a contractor that services electronic voter id systems.
Dallas was the only county in the immediate area that was a target. Surprisingly, the hackers did not go after actual votes to manipulate. Instead, they went after voter information to try and make it more difficult for people to vote.
As Dallas County voted in the presidential election, there were 17 unsuccessful attempts to penetrate the county's election system. All of the attacks had IP addresses originating in Russia.
“The issue is not the voting machines,” said Dallas County Commissioner John Wiley Price. “The issue is the registration roles.”
Dallas attorney Michael Tittens wrote a blog titled ‘Cyber Threat Goes to the Polls’ just days before the election warning of such attacks.
“You can imagine chaos at the polls if every voter or a large number of voters found that they weren't on the roles,” he said. “They'd be filling out affidavits. It would not only slow down the voting process, it would slow down the calculation and tabulation of the results.”
Homeland Security and the FBI were working to protect voter registration rolls and follow the cyber footsteps and fingerprints of the would-be attackers.
“They come into these portals in ways you would never imagine,” Price said. “So that's one of the challenges for us.”
Tittens warns the future will be filled with more attempts by foreign enemies to undermine confidence in the voting process.
“Whatever we've seen, we know that our adversaries will use what they've learned to develop more sophisticated, more effective tools to carry out their objectives — whatever they may be,” the attorney said.
The county is already increased its cyber security and looking at what else can be done to keep those looking to gain access out.
The U.S. has a decentralized voting system, which prevents interruption on a large scale. But the downside is it means every municipality needs to have state-of-the-art cyber security protection and cyber warfare filled with constantly evolving weapons and tactics.