DHS: AZ voter systems among 21 states targeted by hackers

The special primary will be held on Feb. 27, followed by the general election on April 24. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5)

The Arizona Secretary of State’s office learned Friday that hackers targeted its voter registration system before the presidential election. Spokesman Matt Roberts said the office was informed Friday morning in a phone call with the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.

DHS is informing 21 states that hackers targeted their systems last year, but in most cases, the systems were not breached. Officials in Alabama, Colorado, Illinois, Maryland, Virginia, Washington and Wisconsin confirm they had been targeted.

[RELATED: Was Arizona's voter database hacked? FBI says maybe]

Homeland Security says the hackers struck in September 2016 and they were believed to be Russian agents.

“We’ve not found any evidence of data manipulation nor any evidence that anything was stolen,” said Roberts in an email. He later tweeted clarifying the attempted hack involved “voter registration systems, not election equipment.”

[RELATED: Hack that targeted Arizona voter database was easy to prevent, expert says]

Secretary of State Michele Reagan declined requests for comment Friday. Roberts explained Reagan would be willing to speak on the matter after she’s briefed early next month.

Arizona and Illinois were discussed in a June 21 U.S. Senate committee hearing as being two of the 21 states targeted. During the hearing, DHS officials refused to reveal the other 19 states targeted saying they wanted to maintain trust with state and local officials by protecting “victim” information.

In the hearing, Sam Liles of the DHS Cyber Division said Russian hackers were “scanning” voter systems like “somebody walking down the street and looking to see if you are home.”

[RELATED: November election hacking threat shakes voter confidence]

In a few cases where hackers left a trace, Liles said it was “as though somebody rattled the doorknob but couldn’t get in.”

“A small number of the networks were successfully exploited,” said Liles. “They made it through the door.”

Gov. Doug Ducey’s office said, in a statement, "Maintaining the security of our elections is a top priority. Our Department of Administration’s cyber security team will be receiving a full briefing and working with the Secretary of State’s office as necessary."

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