The Russian Cyberattack On The 2016 Election Was Bigger Than We Thought

Photographed by Kate Anglestein.
The U.S. government has concluded that Russian hackers interfered in the 2016 presidential election, and a National Security Agency (NSA) document published by The Intercept (and allegedly leaked by Reality Winner) shows Russian military intelligence attacked computers at an American voting machine company days before the election. According to a new report by Bloomberg, the cyberattack was more widespread than even the NSA memo revealed.
Citing anonymous sources with knowledge of the investigation, Bloomberg reports voting systems in 39 states were hacked by Russia. Software meant to be used by poll workers was breached, as well as a campaign finance database in at least one state.
There's still no evidence any actual votes were altered by the cyberattacks. However, hackers could have deleted voter information or caused other voting delays at specific precincts, both of which could discourage people from voting. Even if Russian hackers didn't change votes for the next president of the United States, their interference could have kept people from voting in areas expected to vote for Clinton.
Although Russian President Vladimir Putin has continuously denied any involvement in the cyberattack, U.S. intelligence agencies released a report in January saying Putin wanted to disrupt the election in favor of Donald Trump.
A lot is still unknown about the election interference, but the larger implication is that Russian hackers could use what they learned from 2016 to carry out an even more broad cyberattack in the next U.S. presidential election. Former FBI Director James Comey told the Senate intel committee in a hearing on Russia last week, "They will be back."
Much is also unknown about the Trump administration's connections to Russia, which is the subject of an ongoing investigation by both Congress and special counsel appointed by the State Department. For more details about this complicated story, check out our timeline of the tangled Trump-Russia scandal.

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