Russia has been accused of interfering in the elections of candidates to political office in several countries since the turn of the millennium, including Ukraine in both 2004 and 2014 and the United States during the most recent presidential election cycle. One such type of attack that Russia perpetrated against the United States was the suppression of minority voters, particularly Black people, in areas where their potential votes would have mattered more than most places in the country.
Another two attacks targeted the Democratic Party and its members. One of these attacks involved sending phishing emails to John Podesta, the chairman of the presidential campaign of Hillary Clinton, the direct opponent of Donald Trump, who was nominated by the Republican Party to run for president. After Podesta fell for the phishing email he ended up providing login information to, Russian cybercriminals got their collective hands on some 60,000 emails from the private email account of Mr. Podesta.
The second of these two attacks involved gaining unauthorized administrative access to the official information technology (IT) infrastructure of the Democratic National Committee, the political organization overseeing the actions of the Democratic Party. The hackers, going under the pseudonym of Guccifer 2.0, gained access to the computer network in July 2015 and oversaw its operations, unknowingly to members of the Democratic National Committee, for at least a full year. In mid-2016, the hackers working under the Guccifer 2.0 pseudonym made tons of emails made by members of the Democratic Party available on the Internet to the public at no cost.
Just yesterday, on Tuesday, May 14, 2019, Ron DeSantis, the current Governor of Florida, shared with the public at a scheduled press conference that the state government of Florida had been informed by the Federal Bureau of Investigation that at least two counties’ computer networks were hacked by Russian interests as part of Russia’s greater interference campaign as related to the 2016 presidential election.
According to Governor Ron DeSantis, the FBI expressly suggested that the Russian hacking interests were not able to manipulate voting networks in the two affected Floridian counties, though they were able to gain unauthorized access to the networks that supervised those counties’ elections.
Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s long-awaited, much-hyped report on Russia’s interference in the 2016 presidential election in the United States, which was released less than a month ago, indicated that the Russian interests were able to “gain access to the network of at least one Florida county government.” The recent statements made by Governor DeSantis are corroborated by the Mueller report’s findings.
Governor Ron DeSantis indicated that he had been reached out to by FBI officials on Friday, May 10, 2019, about the agency’s findings. Although DeSantis was, in fact, told which two counties’ voting networks were infiltrated, he isn’t able to publicly release the names of the two counties that were affected per the terms of a nondisclosure agreement with the Federal Bureau of Investigation.