The reasons remain unclear, but Russian-linked hackers targeted two Texas agencies during the 2016 presidential election. The hackers never accessed networks for the Department of Public Safety and the Texas Library and State Archives Commission, but the search for vulnerabilities by a foreign government is deeply disturbing. The Department of Homeland Security has included Texas in a group of 21 states that Russian hackers targeted during the run-up to the election. Just why DPS or the state’s library archive would be election targets is unclear. Although a Homeland Security official told Express-News reporter Allie Morris that in general terms, the hackers may have been looking for network vulnerabilities that could later be exploited in election systems. In other words, this might have been something akin to a practice run.
Texas Secretary of State Rolando Pablos has said his agency’s networks and infrastructure were never targeted or breached.
According to Morris, state officials noticed suspicious activity in July and quickly moved to block the Internet Provider address. The same IP address was then linked to attempted voter database meddling elsewhere.
The obvious lesson from 2016 is to be vigilant about cyber security in 2018 and beyond. The search for network and infrastructure vulnerabilities by Russia or other outside antagonists will only increase. It’s paramount to preserve the integrity of our elections, and the digital networks that serve and link our government agencies.