A roll of "I Voted" stickers, which are handed out to residents after they vote, sit on an election officials table at a polling place on November 4, 2014 in Ferguson, Missouri.  In last Aprils election only 1,484 of Ferguson's 12,096 registered voters cast ballots. Community leaders are hoping for a much higher turnout for this election. Following riots sparked by the August 9 shooting death of Michael Brown by Darren Wilson, a Ferguson police officer, residents of this majority black community on the outskirts of St. Louis have been forced to re-examine race relations in the region and take a more active role in the region's politics. Two-thirds of Fergusons population is African American yet five of its six city council members are white, as is its mayor, six of seven school board members and 50 of its 53 police officers.  (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)
Homeland Security Chief: Hackers targeting voting systems
03:15 - Source: CNN

Story highlights

Experts say it would be difficult to alter the outcome of national elections

DHS has urged states to take advantage of its resources

Washington CNN  — 

All but four states have now asked the Department of Homeland Security for assistance shoring up their election systems against cyberthreats, according to a senior DHS official.

That number has been steadily trending upward. Earlier this month, 33 states and 11 county or local election agencies had requested the help offered by DHS. As of Monday, that number stands at 46.

As rhetoric has swirled that next week’s election could be “rigged,” and as the US government has publicly accused the Russian government of meddling in the election by hacking Democratic political groups, concerns about attempted cyberattacks on election infrastructure have increased.

While experts assure Americans it would be extremely difficult to alter or affect the outcome of national elections, DHS has also offered to help states and local governments test and prepare their systems to be sure.

No, the presidential election cannot be hacked

DHS has urged states to take advantage of its resources, which include scanning systems for vulnerabilities and recommendations for improving cybersecurity on election and voter registration systems.

More than 20 states have experienced attempts to hack into their voter registration databases or other election-affiliated systems.

Only one has been reported as successfully reaching voter data – a hack in Illinois that accessed information on roughly 90,000 voters. Hackers may have been able to steal personal information like date of birth, driver’s license numbers and the last four digits of Social Security numbers. But no alterations were detected.

Voter registration databases have always been an attractive target for hackers because of the wealth of personal information they contain that can be useful for financial crimes. But experts are also concerned about the risk of manipulation of data or changes and deletions that cause confusion on Election Day.