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Padilla Faults DHS on Russian Cyberwarning; CDT Says Safeguards Worked

California's Secretary of State, Alex Padilla, claims that DHS confirmed Russian scanning in California's statewide network.

California Secretary of State Alex Padilla is criticizing the U.S. Department of Homeland Security over an erroneous warning that his department was among those in state government that had been “scanned” by Russian “cyber actors.”

“DHS confirmed that Russian scanning activity had actually occurred on the California Department of Technology statewide network, not any Secretary of State website,” said a statement issued Wednesday by Padilla’s office.

His statement also says: “Last Friday, my office was notified by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security ... that Russian cyber actors 'scanned' California’s Internet-facing systems in 2016, including Secretary of State websites. Following our request for further information, it became clear that DHS’ conclusions were wrong.” 

He adds: “Our notification from DHS last Friday was not only a year late, it also turned out to be bad information.”

CDT spokesman Bryce Brown, in an email comment to Techwire on Thursday morning, said:

“California routinely detects and stops potential cybersecurity threats, including scanning. Tuesday, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security identified the source of suspect activity that occurred on our network last summer. Although we did not have knowledge of the source until now, we have confirmed our security systems worked as planned and the activity was blocked as it happened in 2016.

“We continue to monitor this situation and work with federal partners to ensure that the state’s data, networks and systems remain secure," Brown's statement concluded.

Padilla reassured voters that “the California Secretary of State elections infrastructure and websites were not hacked or breached by Russian cyber actors.”

”To make matters worse,” his statement says, “the Associated Press similarly reported that DHS has reversed itself and 'now says Russia didn’t target Wisconsin’s voter registration system,' which is contrary to previous briefings.” 

Padilla said that despite the faulty information, “I remain committed to a partnership with DHS and other intelligence agencies.”

This article was originally published by Techwire

Dennis Noone is the managing editor of Techwire.
Read by opinion leaders, policy makers, the vendor community and government IT workforce, Techwire.net has a well-defined audience focused on the public-sector technology industry in California. Our goal is to gather and publish news and information related to this community, and to document the efforts of those working to modernize California’s digital infrastructure and access to information.
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