GEORGIA SECRETARY OF STATE: DHS ATTACKED OUR FIREWALL
GEORGIA SECRETARY OF STATE:
republished below in full unedited for informational, educational, and research purposes:
On Thursday, Georgia Secretary of State Brian Kemp sent a letter to
the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to ask “why [it] was
attempting to breach” the firewall protecting his computer
infrastructure. The letter also drew attention to the fact that “under
18 U.S.C. 1030, attempting to gain access or exceeding authorized access
to protected computer systems is illegal.”
In the weeks and months leading up to the elections, DHS and other
federal agencies expressed growing concerns over the threat of Russian
hackers penetrating government computers. Many of those concerns were
based in the oft-repeated claim that the hacking of the databases and
e-mail servers of the Democratic National Committee (DNC) was the work
of Russian hackers. That claim has never been proved, and many experts
have said it is not the case. In fact, Julian Assange — the founder and
public face of WikiLeaks, which published the DNC documents — flatly
denied that the source was Russian.
Based on the accepted “wisdom” that the hacks came from Russia —
whether from individual hackers or directed by Moscow — DHS issued a
series of recommendations to the states for protecting their voter
registration and election systems against attacks aimed at hacking the
election. DHS also offered its assistance in providing “cyber hygiene
scans or penetration testing” before the elections. As Kemp reminded DHS
in his letter:
that did not seek DHS assistance with cyber hygiene scans or penetration
testing before this year’s election. We declined this assistance due to
having already implemented the security measures suggested by DHS.
It appears that — in keeping with its heavy-handed approach in
general — DHS was unwilling to take no for an answer. On November 15 —
days after the election — “an IP address associated with the
Department of Homeland Security made an unsuccessful attempt to
penetrate the Georgia Secretary of State’s firewall,” according to
Kemp’s letter. Kemp also reminded DHS of the fact that its attempted
penetration of the firewall was both unwanted and unsuccessful:
permitted DHS to conduct penetration testing or security scans of our
network. Moreover, your Department has not contacted my office since
this unsuccessful incident to alert us of any security event that would
require testing or scanning of our network. This is especially odd and
concerning since I serve on the Election Cyber Security Working Group
that your office created.
also makes the point that one of his responsibilities as secretary of
state is to “protect Georgians’ data against the type of event that
occurred on November 15” and that since he takes that responsibility
seriously, he has “contracted with a global leader in monitored security
services to provide immediate responses to these types of threats.” He
State’s office maintains the statewide voter registration data base
containing the personal information of over 6.5 million Georgians. In
addition, we hold the information for over 800,000 corporate entities
and over 500,000 licensed or registered professionals.
cyber security very seriously. That is why I have contracted with a
global leader in monitored security services to provide immediate
responses to these types of threats. This firm analyzes more than 180
billion events a day globally across a 5,000+ customer base which
includes many Fortune 500 companies. Clearly, this type of resource and
service is necessary to protect Georgians’ data against the type of
event that occurred on November 15.
It is noteworthy that Kemp sees this attempted intrusion by DHS as a
threat. If DHS were correct and Georgia were in need of DHS
“assistance,” it would seem that DHS would have succeeded in penetrating the firewall protecting the Georgia secretary of state’s computer infrastructure. Since DHS failed to hack into those systems, it is fair to assume that Russian hackers do not pose a credible threat to those systems, either.
Perhaps the only thing more embarrassing to an overreaching federal
agency than telling it you don’t need its help is proving it by
preventing them from forcing it on you.
This case illustrates the value of a free-market approach. By
contracting with “a global leader in monitored security services” (a
private firm), Kemp was able to “protect Georgians’ data against” even an attack launched by DHS.
By demonstrating the value of a free-market approach and the fact that
states can handle these matters themselves without “assistance” from the
federal government, Kemp also demonstrated the lack of value of DHS and
its heavy-handed approach.
That is just peachy.
Election Hackers Revealed As DHS Agents
Published on Dec 14, 2016
exposing a massive cyber attack of Georgia’s state elections network,
the Secretary of State confirms the IP address of the hacker leads back
to the DHS.