Next target for Russian hackers—2018 Senate races

With Republicans seemingly retiring by the day, and Trump helping out by dragging his party into the excrement, the idea that Democrats might flip the House has gone from the longest of long shots to a not-so-risky bet. But on the Senate side of the hill, even Trump can’t get around the fact that Democrats are defending 25 seats and Republicans are facing only eight contests. In an ordinary year—even an ordinary midterm under a new president—that’s a formula that suggests Republican gains. Still, with Trump weighing on the party, and Doug Jones cutting the margin with his win in Alabama, the chances that Democrats could end up in control of both ends of Congress seem much better than they did a year ago.

But it appears that Republicans may have a not so secret weapon.

The same Russian government-aligned hackers who penetrated the Democratic Party have spent the past few months laying the groundwork for an espionage campaign against the U.S. Senate, a cybersecurity firm said Friday.

In 2016, Russian efforts actually extended into 39 states. Since then Russia has tested its ability to sway world events by planting false stories justifying the quarantine of Qatar, making intrusions into the global power grid, and hacking into the infrastructure of the French election. At the very least, 2018 is likely to see a return of the same sorts of actions that Russian operatives used in the last cycle—from stealing emails and get out the vote plans, to using armies of ‘bots along with carefully placed ads in social media. That’s because Republicans, intent on protecting Trump, have refused to take seriously any measure to address the continuing threat. 

Cybersecurity experts have long warned that America’s election system is a sitting duck for hackers looking to cause chaos. Voter rolls have regularly been been stored on inadequately protected systems, and the country has for years relied on outdated electronic voting machines. At the state and local level, governments can lack the funds to hire elite cyber professionals or properly train staff.

Daily Kos

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