2016 election hacking in Florida: Russian emails, hidden tracks

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The Mueller Report says the Russians planted malware on at least one Florida county system, and Florida’s governor announces that two counties were hacked in 2016. Experts believe the problem could be bigger.

Since early April when Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s redacted report on the investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election was released, a storm of confusion and controversy has raged over what happened in Florida during that election. A cryptic passage in the Mueller report outlines how Unit 74455 of Russia’s military intelligence arm GRU sent “spear-phishing emails to public officials involved in election administration and personnel involved in voting technology.”

The Mueller report states that in August 2016, the GRU targeted employees of a voting technology company that “developed software used by numerous U.S. counties to manage voter rolls, and installed malware on the company network.” The voting technology vendor’s name was redacted in the report.

According to the Mueller report, an FBI investigation revealed that in November 2016 the GRU “sent spear-phishing emails to over 120 email accounts used by Florida county officials responsible for administering the 2016 U.S. election” and malware embedded in Word documents in those emails enabled the GRU to gain access to “at least one Florida county government.”

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