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Russian Hackers Targeted Tallahassee-Based Elections Company

Early voting sign sits outside a precinct, guiding voters inside (2014).
Jessica Palombo

Russian military attempts to hack last year’s presidential election were aimed at a Tallahassee-based company. The information comes from the leak of a classified document from the National Security Agency. According to the document, the Russian military targeted the company VR systems, which serves most of Florida’s 67 supervisor of elections offices by providing software, voter registration systems, trailing, hardware and firmware. Leon Supervisor of Elections Mark Earley says local systems are secure, but the threat is not to be taken lightly.

It highlights the need for take the threat seriously," he said. "These are nation-states trying to undermine our democracy and that should be taken seriously."

According to information first published in the Intercept, the scam used a technique known as phishing—sending emails embedded with malicious software out to users and trying to trick them into clicking in order to take personal information. Early says VR systems sent out an alert about the phishing scam on November first.

In a statement the Florida Division of Elections says the state’s voting system is secure, largely due to efforts in decentralization, a strong paper trail, and efforts to keep the systems offline.

"The Department [of State] participated in an informational call with the FBI related to elections security at the end of September 2016 where they alerted officials for the need to maintain security measures, but there was no indication of a Florida-specific issue. They did not provide any information specific to VR Systems."