Omaha-based voting machine company denies Russian hacking

OMAHA, Neb. (AP) — Russian hackers didn’t breach an Omaha company’s election machines or software in 2016, according to the company’s officials.

Omaha-based Election Systems & Software, the largest U.S. maker of voter machines, worked with the FBI to verify its systems weren’t hacked after 12 Russian government intelligence officers were indicted, said Kathy Rogers, the company’s senior vice president for government affairs.

U.S. Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein announced last week the indictment of Russian officials on charges of hacking into U.S. election-related computer systems during the 2016 presidential election. The indictments allege the officials hacked into computers of an unidentified company that supplied software verifying voter registration information.

“I can tell you that it wasn’t us,” Rogers told the Omaha World-Herald on Tuesday.

The company sells voting machines, computer software for voter registration and vote tabulation and related services to U.S. counties and other election agencies.

Rogers said the Department of Homeland Security confirmed that none of the company’s information was breached. Hackers can’t access systems that count votes because the company’s equipment isn’t connected to the Internet, she said.

Motherboard, a technology-related news website, published a letter Tuesday that Election Systems had sent to U.S. Sen. Ron Wyden of Oregon in April. The company acknowledged in the letter to having sold software allowing remote connections to some election customers between 2000 and 2006. The letter contradicted an earlier statement that the company hadn’t ever sold systems with remote-access software, according to Motherboard.

Wyden told Motherboard that election equipment with remote-access software “is the worst decision for security short of leaving ballot boxes on a Moscow street corner.”

The company released a statement saying that its voting machines don’t and haven’t ever had remote-access capability. The software in question was used for “technical support purposes on county workstations,” Election Systems said.

According to the company, no customers currently use the software and it stopped using the software after new election security guidelines took effect in 2007.


Information from: Omaha World-Herald,