As the Alaska Legislature held a Thursday hearing examining the security state’s election system, the Alaska Division of Elections responded to claims that a hacker penetrated its systems on Election Day 2016. Earlier this week, the Anchorage Daily News published details of a previously undisclosed penetration of the division’s computer systems. The division has previously said Alaska was among the 21 states identified by the Department of Homeland Security as targets of Russian vulnerability scans, but it had not discussed an event on the morning of Election Day itself. In that event, exposed by emails first obtained by the ADN (and subsequently obtained by the Associated Press and the Empire), a hacker identified on Twitter as @cyberzeist published pictures of the administrative tools the division uses to share election results with the public.
The systems the state uses to tabulate votes are not connected to the internet, meaning the hacker’s actions were the rough equivalent of having the ability to deface a bulletin board.
The hacker claimed to have penetrated the state’s elections database, but state officials found no evidence of that.
Leonard Robertson, a network systems specialist for the state, wrote on Election Day, “They claim to have discovered a vulnerability, but this has not been proven true. … There is no path from Elections.alaska.gov to reach the tabulation system. Tabulation results are hand-carried one way from the tabulation system to the elections webserver.”