CBS News has learned that in an unprecedented effort to enhance election security ahead of the 2018 midterms, select state officials will be given access to some of the most sensitive information about the extent of the 2016 cyberattacks, but that access will require them to submit to the time-consuming and lengthy process of filling out federal security clearance applications. The process online can take up to 10 hours and, even after completing the application, some election officials say they have doubts about the extent of what they’ll be able to see.During the 2016 election, suspected Russian hackers scanned and probed voter databases and other election related computer networks in at least 21 states.
Since the cyberattacks were made public, states have rushed to enhance security around their systems, often independent of any federal guidance. In recent weeks, DHS and FBI officials have been meeting with state elections officials, but in some cases have only added to the uncertainty of how to respond to nation-state cyberattacks on election systems.
A secretary of State, who did not want to be identified responding to recent DHS meetings, called the sessions to date “very bizarre” and a “complete waste of time.”