The U.S. Department of Homeland Security is standing by an earlier report to the state, which indicated Wisconsin election systems had been the target of “Russian government cyber actors.”
Wisconsin Elections Commission staff said DHS contacted them last Friday, indicating that the state’s election systems had been the target of a scan by Russians trying to gain access. However, state information technology officials told the commission Tuesday they could find no evidence to back that up, while an email from a DHS official further confused the issue by indicating it was systems belonging to the Department of Workforce Development that were actually targeted.
The email Tuesday morning sparked uncertainty about the situation, and WEC chair Mark Thomsen said the agency would work to get more information from DHS about the situation.
In a statement, DHS said it was standing by the information given to Wisconsin and 20 other states last week, indicating that, while DWD was scanned, the agency believes election systems were the intended target.
Spokesman Scott McConnell said the information given to the states “was based on a variety of sources,” adding that the agency believes those states “were the target of Russian government cyber actors seeking vulnerabilities and access to U.S. election infrastructure.”
The revelation came as state election officials were already looking at ways to enhance security surrounding their systems. The commission is expected to further review those options when it meets in December.