IG to Investigate 10 DHS Cyberattacks on Georgia Election System
Feds have launched an investigation into why the Department of Homeland Security hacked into the Georgia state governmental network, including its election system, The Daily Caller News Foundation’s Investigative Group has learned.
John Roth, inspector general for DHS, wants to know why the agency broke protocol on its way to 10 unprecedented attacks on the system overseen by Georgia Secretary of State Brian Kemp — who is also one of the most vocal critics about the Obama administration’s attempt to designate local and state election machinery as part of federal “critical infrastructure.”
A Jan. 17 letter from Roth notified Kemp his office was officially “investigating a series of ten alleged scanning events of the Georgia Secretary of State’s network that may have originated from DHS-affiliated IP addresses.” A firewall in Georgia’s system thwarted each attempt.
DHS Secretary Jeh Johnson and Kemp have clashed over a federal government designation of election systems as “critical infrastructure.” Kemp called it “political power play to federalize elections.”
Johnson sparked a firestorm among state-level secretaries of state – Democrat and Republican alike — when he announced Jan. 6, two weeks before leaving office, that he was unilaterally issuing the designation.
If Roth’s investigation shows Johnson or his subordinates deliberately used federal cybersecurity resources to penetrate a state election system in order to pressure a state official over a policy dispute, it could represent a significant scandal for Johnson and for the outgoing Obama administration.
Georgian IT specialists traced 10 such scans back to a DHS IP address. DHS officials confirmed the attacks came from an unnamed contractor attached to the Federal Law Enforcement Training Center in Glynco, Georgia, a part of DHS.
FLETCO officials have refuse to identify the contractor and the agency did not respond to a DCNF inquiry about the intrusions.
Rep. Jason Chaffetz, a Utah Republican, asked Roth to investigate the matter in a Jan. 11 letter.