Homeland Security Advisor: Hard To Alter U.S. Elections Through Hacking

WASHINGTON (CBS / AP) — President Barack Obama’s homeland security adviser said Wednesday that it would be very hard for someone to hack into America’s voting systems in a way that could alter an election outcome.

Lisa Monaco, speaking at an event commemorating the 10-year anniversary of the Justice Department’s national security division, said election systems by and large are not hooked up to the Internet and are diffusely operated by state and local governments.

“That makes it extremely disparate, extremely diffuse and, as a consequence, extremely difficult to have an effect across the board that would result in a change in results,” Monaco said during a question-and-answer session.

The bigger worry, she said, involves efforts to sow “concern or confusion” about the resilience of the system. To help counter that, the federal government is pushing out to states a set of tools, such as the ability to scan for vulnerabilities and quickly patch them, and best practices that they should apply – including encrypting their voter registration data, she said.

The comments come amid ongoing concern about the ability by hackers from Russia or other nations to breach voting systems. The FBI last month warned state elections officials to boost their election security in light of evidence that hackers targeted related data systems in at least two states, Illinois and Arizona.

“The efforts of malicious actors to intrude upon voter registration databases and other elements of our critical infrastructure, as well as our voting infrastructure, are of concern,” she said.

Monaco’s remarks echoed those of FBI Director James Comey, who told an audience last week that “the vote counting in this country tends to be kind of clunky, which is a blessing because it makes it harder for hackers to infiltrate.”

© Copyright 2016 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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