Feds say Russia tried to hack Connecticut's voter registration system

HARTFORD (AP) — Connecticut officials were notified by the federal government on Friday that the state's online voter registration system was targeted during last year's presidential campaign in hacking efforts by Russia.

Gabe Rosenberg, a spokesman from the Secretary of the State's office, said the U.S. Department of Homeland Security informed the office that the online system was scanned by agents of the Russian government between July and September of 2016, but it was not breached.

"They did not exploit any vulnerabilities," he told The Associated Press. "Our detection system turned it away."

Connecticut was among more than 20 states that received similar notifications on Friday.

The disclosure to the states comes as a special counsel probes whether there was any coordination during the 2016 presidential campaign between Russia and associates of President Donald Trump.

Rosenberg said state information technology experts were aware of the scanning at the time it occurred but were not aware that Russia was involved until they were told by DHS. He said hacking attempts are not uncommon.

"Our IT system has a firewall and when the scan came through, it recognized what was happening and stopped it from entering the system," he said. "Our IT people knew exactly what (DHS officials) were talking about and that the attempted intrusion was turned back."

U.S. Sen. Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., issued a statement Friday evening regarding the announcement of what he deemed the "brazen Russian campaign to interfere in the 2016 American elections."

“Recent reports about Russian surreptitious scans of Connecticut systems reaffirm the urgency and importance of the ongoing federal investigations. The investigations concern such Russian election meddling, alleged Trump campaign collusion with it, and possible obstruction of justice — by the Special Counsel, and separately by Congressional committees," Blumenthal said. "I will vigorously support such investigations, including by the Senate Judiciary Committee, where I serve. These reports are further evidence that the Russians and anyone who aided them should be made to pay a steep price for any such criminal wrongdoing."

The news that states were targeted by Russia was first announced by Homeland Security at a U.S. Senate Intelligence Committee hearing on June 21.

Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton won Connecticut's seven electoral votes. The state has voted for the Democratic presidential candidate in seven consecutive presidential elections. 

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