DHS inspector general: Georgia's election systems weren't hacked

(FEMA / Bill Koplitz)

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The Department of Homeland Security’s inspector general has concluded that the department did not breach Georgia’s voting system, according to a letter issued to Congress on Monday.

The letter by Inspector General John Roth stipulates that his office’s Digital Forensics and Analysis Unit recreated a contractor’s actions from Nov. 15, 2016: accessing a public page on the Georgia Secretary of State’s website in order to verify security guards’ weapons certification licensing, which a contractor then copied into a spreadsheet file.

The letter was sent to the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, which asked for an independent investigation in January.

The incident came to light last December, when Georgia Secretary of State Brian Kemp claimed someone from DHS tried to breach his office’s firewall after the state’s third-party cybersecurity provider detected a penetration attempt from an IP address from the federal department’s Southwest D.C. office.

Since then, the incident has been spread by right-wing media as evidence that then-President Barack Obama had meddled in the 2016 presidential election. Shortly after the election, then-Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson said there were no attacks on election systems on Election Day.

In comments to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Kemp said he spoke with both Roth and Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly, and was satisfied with the IG’s findings.

“DHS did not knowingly attempt to breach Georgia’s firewall or hack our systems,” Kemp told the Journal-Constitution. “Federal officials were able to re-create the event, and they have promised to provide a detailed report for my review. While I am disappointed that it took a new administration to investigate this highly important incident, I am pleased to learn this information and relieved that our federal government is not trying to interfere with elections in our state or others involved in this situation.”

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Brian Kemp, Department of Homeland Security, DHS IG, Georgia
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