The White House confirmed that the potential for election hacking led to using the special "red phone" to contact Russia eight days before the U.S. presidential election and issue a warning about influencing the process.

The original report said the White House used a secret "hotline"-style message on October 31st to clearly ask Russia to stop any cyberattacks that could undermine the election results. Anonymous White House officials told The Washington Post about the election hacking warning and said the Russian government response was "noncommittal." Even so, the officials said they hadn't seen an escalation in cyberattacks from Russia leading up to the election.

In a statement to The New York Times¸ the White House confirmed it had "contacted the Russian government directly regarding malicious cyberactivity" that was "targeting U.S. state election-related systems" using the Washington-Moscow Direct Communications Link connecting the Nuclear Risk Reduction Centers in both countries.

Cyberattacks attributed to Russia have been so plentiful this year that the White House previously admitted to considering "proportional response" to election hacking by the Russian government following attacks on voter registration systems and the Democratic National Committee. These attacks, as well as the breach of Clinton campaign chairman John Podesta's email account, were attributed to Russian hacker groups allegedly under orders by the Russian government.

Konstantinos Karagiannis, CTO of security consulting at BT America, said via Twitter that the leaks from these attacks likely prompted the warning.

Privacy Professor CEO Rebecca Herold said the leaks imply Russia's intent was likely to influence the election rather than perform direct election hacking. But, she said the White House's warning may been aimed at stopping more leaks in the lead-up to the election.

"It is likely Russia had just as much information, emails, and databases from the Republicans as they did for the Democrats (reports indicated the GOP systems were just as weak and vulnerable as the DNC's were), but chose to only release select information about the DNC, Clinton, and others, and possibly use it in other ways as well, to influence voters," Herold told SearchSecurity via email.

FBI Director James Comey said in September that state voter registration systems had been targeted by malicious actors and the Department of Homeland Security offered to help states to make sure systems were protected against potential election hacking. However, Comey also assured the public that the presidential election itself would be "very, very hard for someone to hack into because it's so clunky and dispersed."

Herold agreed that hacking of any election system was unlikely but Russia's attacks on voter registration databases would have provided "such things as voting histories, political group memberships, cause group memberships, addresses, polling and survey results, etc."

"It is feasible for such data to be run through big data analytics to determine the topics for which the voting population groups would have the most concerns, and thus the topics and/or specific types of hacked information that could be publicized with regard to each of the candidates to potentially help sway the voters to switch votes to the other candidate, or to even kill their motivation to even vote at all," Herold said. "If Russia had such data, and wanted to use it to try and make one candidate look bad, the other good, etc., that is how they would be viewed as influencing, or 'hacking' the election."

Next Steps

Learn how predictive modeling and forecasting failed to pick the election winner.

Find out why experts feared voting machine hacks during the general election.

Get info on the president-elect being silent on cybersecurity.



Find more PRO+ content and other member only offers, here.

SearchSecurity: Security Wire Daily News

New Collision Attacks Against 3DES, Blowfish Allow for Cookie Decryption

August 24, 2016 , 8:00 am

Chrome to Label Some HTTP Sites ‘Not Secure’ in 2017

September 8, 2016 , 3:43 pm

Threatpost News Wrap, September 2, 2016

September 2, 2016 , 9:00 am

Insecure Redis Instances at Core of Attacks Against Linux Servers

September 1, 2016 , 1:08 pm

Dropbox Forces Password Reset for Older Users

August 29, 2016 , 9:58 am

Cisco Begins Patching Equation Group ASA Zero Day

August 24, 2016 , 5:53 pm

Cisco Acknowledges ASA Zero Day Exposed by ShadowBrokers

August 17, 2016 , 4:06 pm

Pokémon GO Spam, Ransomware, On the Rise

August 17, 2016 , 12:58 pm

ProjectSauron APT On Par With Equation, Flame, Duqu

August 8, 2016 , 1:40 pm

Miller, Valasek Deliver Final Car Hacking Talk

August 4, 2016 , 3:26 pm

Researchers Go Inside a Business Email Compromise Scam

August 4, 2016 , 10:00 am

Export-Grade Crypto Patching Improves

August 3, 2016 , 10:00 am

Kaspersky Lab Launches Bug Bounty Program

August 2, 2016 , 9:00 am

Threatpost News Wrap, July 29, 2016

July 29, 2016 , 10:45 am

KeySniffer Vulnerability Opens Wireless Keyboards to Snooping

July 26, 2016 , 9:30 am

Upcoming Tor Design Battles Hidden Services Snooping

July 25, 2016 , 3:51 pm

EFF Files Lawsuit Challenging DMCA’s Restrictions on Security Researchers

July 21, 2016 , 1:18 pm

Oracle Patches Record 276 Vulnerabilities with July Critical Patch Update

July 20, 2016 , 9:21 am

Threatpost News Wrap, July 15, 2016

July 15, 2016 , 11:00 am

Academics Build Early-Warning Ransomware Detection System

July 14, 2016 , 1:05 pm

xDedic Hacked Server Market Resurfaces on Tor Domain

July 12, 2016 , 11:40 am

Conficker Used in New Wave of Hospital IoT Device Attacks

June 30, 2016 , 11:48 am

655,000 Healthcare Records Being Sold on Dark Web

June 28, 2016 , 10:00 am

Windows Zero Day Selling for $ 90,000

May 31, 2016 , 5:44 pm

Millions of Stolen MySpace, Tumblr Credentials Being Sold Online

May 31, 2016 , 1:37 pm

OTR Protocol Patched Against Remote Code Execution Flaw

March 10, 2016 , 10:23 am

iOS 9.3.4 Patches Critical Code Execution Flaw

August 8, 2016 , 9:00 am

IoT Insecurity: Pinpointing the Problems

July 21, 2016 , 7:00 am

VeraCrypt Audit Under Way; Email Mystery Cleared Up

August 16, 2016 , 2:27 pm

New Gmail Alerts Warn of Unauthenticated Senders

August 11, 2016 , 2:10 pm

New Trojan SpyNote Installs Backdoor on Android Devices

July 29, 2016 , 12:21 pm

PLC-Blaster Worm Targets Industrial Control Systems

August 5, 2016 , 4:49 pm

Keystroke Recognition Uses Wi-Fi Signals To Snoop

August 25, 2016 , 2:19 pm

Threatpost | The first stop for security news