SPRINGFIELD - Voting information on up to 200,000 Illinois voters was stolen online by hackers during a two-week break-in that Illinois Board of Elections' technicians discovered in July.
The hacking, reported as a backpage story in Illinois back in July, became front-page news nationally this week when the FBI sent out a warning to all state election boards with information with which to check their systems.
“This is a big deal,” said Rich Barger, chief intelligence officer for ThreatConnect, a cybersecurity firm, who reviewed the FBI alert at the request of Yahoo News. “Two state election boards have been popped, and data has been taken. This certainly should be concerning to the common American voter.”
A reported posted on the Illinois State Board of Elections' website says on July 12th IT staff discovered unusual activity on the Paperless Online Voter Application (POVA) web site.
The next day, online voter registration was taken offline and staff found that "malicious traffic from the IP addresses continued, though it was blocked at the firewall level. Firewall monitoring indicated that the attackers were hitting SBE IP addresses 5 times per second, 24 hours per day," the report says.
Ken Menzel, the general counsel of the Illinois Board of Elections, told Yahoo! News in an interview that 200,000 personal records was hit.
The online registration was unavailable for 10 days and the ISBE reported to the Illinois General Assembly in compliance with the Personal Information Protection Act. The online ISBE report does not say how many personal information records were stolen.
"We have determined that a number of individuals’ personal information was compromised. Due to the ambiguous nature of the attack we may never know the exact number of affected voters," the report says. "We can confirm that no voting history information and no voter signature images were captured.
At the same time, the hackers attempted to break into Arizona's online election records, but were unable to extract data.
Nevada senator Harry Reid is calling for investigations into the two hackings, saying they raise suspicion about a connection between the Russians and the Trump campaign after the Russians broke into Democratic Party's websites and emails.
While the Russians may be connected to the ISBE hacking, it is unlikely that the deep blue state of Illinois would be where a realistic attempt to influence the presidential election to favor Trump would take place.