“We have not detected, nor received reports from any of our vendors or from the federal government regarding hacking attempts on our elections infrastructure,” said Nicole Lagace, a senior adviser and communications director to Secretary of State Nellie Gorbea.
To keep the system safe, she said, “we have been working with U. S. Department of Homeland Security to conduct a weekly cyber hygiene assessment of our online systems since last October.” Homeland Security began offering this free service to states when news first started to percolate that the Russian government was trying to disrupt American elections.
In recent weeks, news reports and leaked classified government documents have disclosed that Russia may have tried to gain access to local voting systems, in addition to stealing and leaking private emails and distributing fake news. A NSA report leaked to the The Intercept indicates that Russian hackers tried to gain access to at least 122 government computers across the country. “As described by the classified NSA report, the Russian plan was simple: pose as an e-voting vendor and trick local government employees into opening Microsoft Word documents invisibly tainted with potent malware that could give hackers full control over the infected computers,” according to the controversial and revealing Intercept report.
A subsequent story in Bloomberg Politics indicates as many as 39 states may have been hacked. The story story offers no evidence of such a widespread attack, and some have questioned the veracity of the reporting.
Rhode Island does not work with VR Systems, the company mentioned in The Intercept and Bloomberg reports, said Lagace.
She said Rhode Island was well situated to ward off an attack, if one was attempted, because of work Gorbea had done prior to the 2016 election season. “She had already stepped up her efforts leading up to the 2016 election,” Lagace said. “Since coming into office, Secretary of State Gorbea has been working to ensure our elections are fair, fast, and accurate so that Rhode Islanders can trust the integrity of every vote.”