A senior U.S. cybersecurity official has told NBC News that Russian hackers successfully penetrated the voter registration rolls of several U.S. states prior to the 2016 presidential election.
Jeanette Manfra, head of cybersecurity at the Department of Homeland Security, said Russia targeted 21 states, and "an exceptionally small number of them were actually successfully penetrated."
NBC News said Wednesday that it had contacted the 21 states that were targeted. Five states, including Texas and California, said they were not attacked.
Jeh Johnson, DHS secretary during the 2016 presidential election, told NBC, "We were able to determine that the scanning and probing of voter registration databases was coming from the Russian government." He called the hacks a "wake-up call," and said he was now worried that a lot of states have done little to nothing "to harden their cybersecurity."
Many of the states said they weren't provided specific details from the government about the cyberthreats. Others said they were waiting for the government to provide cybersecurity help.
The revelations have sparked widespread fears that Russia or another foreign government could try to interfere in future elections using cyberattacks and other tactics.