Elections

Two Florida counties hit by 2016 Russian hack. ‘Not us,’ Manatee election supervisor says

Intelligence officials confident Russians behind election attacks

Top U.S. intelligence officials testify before the Senate Armed Services Committee at a hearing on cybersecurity threats, including Russia's hacking of the U.S. presidential election. An unclassified report will be released to the public next week
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Top U.S. intelligence officials testify before the Senate Armed Services Committee at a hearing on cybersecurity threats, including Russia's hacking of the U.S. presidential election. An unclassified report will be released to the public next week

“Not us.”

That’s how Supervisor of Elections Mike Bennett characterized Gov. Ron DeSantis’ announcement that two unnamed Florida counties had fallen prey to Russian hackers in 2016. A nondisclosure agreement prevented DeSantis from saying more.

According to DeSantis, vote counts or the ability to cast a vote were not affected. It’s unclear what the goal of the hacks may have been, but that’s part of the problem, Bennett said Tuesday.

“To me, it’s goofy,” he said. “If they know two counties were hacked, let us know which ones, so we can figure out what the hell happened.”

In the meantime, Manatee County’s voting headquarters has protocols to prevent any vulnerabilities. Thumb drives aren’t allowed and staff don’t open emails from unfamiliar senders.

The supervisor described a potential hacking intrusion as more of a waiting game. It’s not apparent that you’ve become a victim until the hacker reveals they have access to the system.

“Here’s the problem: If someone hacks you, you might not necessarily know it. We don’t believe we’ve been hacked, but you never know unless that person acts on it,” Bennett explained.

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