Russian hackers tried to break into the computer systems of at least five Florida county elections offices days before the 2016 presidential election, according to five county officials who say they received malicious emails described in a leaked intelligence report. Election supervisors in Hillsborough, Pasco, Citrus and Clay counties separately told the Times/Herald their offices got the emails, which contained attachments that could have taken over their computers. But all four said their staffers did not open them. Volusia County said it opened one of the infected emails, but not the attachment that could have compromised its systems. There’s been no evidence disclosed publicly that any counties were breached. It’s not clear how many counties were targeted, in Florida or across the country. The Times/Herald sent requests for the emails to all 67 elections offices in the state. Nineteen replied back that they searched for them and couldn’t find any.
The intelligence report, written by the National Security Agency, was published Monday by the Intercept, an online news outlet, and verified by other national media sources. It described two efforts by a Russian military intelligence unit, the G.R.U., to disrupt the presidential election.
The first attempt, in August, targeted VR Systems, a Tallahassee-based vendor that sells voter registration software to all but three of Florida’s 67 counties, according to the report. The second attempt was aimed at 122 election management officials across the country, just days before the election, and was disguised as a routine message from VR Systems, the report said.