Why it matters: While it's common knowledge that Russian hackers attempted to interfere with the US electoral system in 2016, it turns out their efforts were more far reaching and effective than was previously believed, and - perhaps more worryingly - many states were unprepared to respond to cyberattacks.
The Senate Intelligence Committee recently released the first volume of its investigation into Russia's attempted interference in the 2016 U.S. elections. The report shows the officials concluding that all 50 states were targeted in one way or another by hackers with ties to the Russian government, and offers recommendations for 2020.
Back in 2017, news made the rounds that the extent of the attacks was limited to 39 states, and later that year the Department of Homeland Security only admitted that 21 states had been affected by the breach. Earlier this year the DHS and FBI revealed that some intelligence collected in 2018 showed that hackers did, in fact, try to probe every U.S. state's election infrastructure.
The new report is heavily redacted, so we can't know for sure how exactly the Senate Intelligence Committee came to its conclusions. It does however acknowledge that “Russian cyber actors were in a position to delete or change voter data,” confirming what Florida Senator Marco Rubio said in an interview earlier this year.
It's also worth noting that U.S. officials still aren't certain if voter data was modified, or if hackers have tampered with any actual voting machine. In a statement, both parties supported the idea of providing states with more money for election security and adjusting electoral policy to make sure hackers can no longer exploit the seams between federal and state authorities.
The Committee's recommendations include the creation of a paper trail for voting tech, implementing post-election audits, paper backup for registration systems, as well as the adoption of election security bills, an idea vehemently rejected by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell.
In response, Senator Ron Wyden said "we shouldn't ask a county election IT employee to fight a war against the full capabilities and vast resources of Russia's cyber army. That approach failed in 2016 and it will fail again."