Colorado’s election systems have been under attack by cyber intruders. Networks are being poked and prodded in an attempt to bypass security measures, access control systems and manipulate or extract data. Don’t worry, though: The attacks are not real. Rather, they are simulations part of “Cyber Storm,” the nation’s largest cybersecurity exercise, overseen by the Department of Homeland Security. Colorado is one of seven states participating in the exercise, along with nearly 1,000 other “players” across the nation that range from law enforcement agencies to transportation and manufacturing networks. According to DHS, the exercises are the sixth iteration of Operation Cyber Storm, and the simulated cyber attacks are meant to expose cyber vulnerabilities and test network administrators’ preparedness, security measures and responses.
It is no coincidence that the exercise is occurring months before midterm elections. DHS has reported that in November 2016, Russian hackers targeted 21 state elections systems, including Colorado’s.
As we reported in a July cover story, “Red Alert,” Colorado’s Secretary of State Wayne Williams maintains that Colorado’s election systems were not breached but rather “scanned” by Russians, which Williams likened to jiggling a doorknob to see if it’s unlocked.