The Illinois State Board of Elections reduced the number of voters potentially affected by a recent hack of the state election system from an estimated 200,000 to roughly 90,000 on Wednesday.
Last month, the Federal Bureau of Investigations warned election officials across the country after it found evidence that foreign hackers were able to infiltrate state election databases in Illinois and Arizona.
Illinois State Board of Elections’ general counsel Ken Menzel said Monday that hackers were able to download the personal data of up to 200,000 voters in the state. The board has since reduced that number by more than half.
“The State Board of Elections can confirm that approximately 700 voter records were viewed and those 700 individuals will soon be notified by mail as required by law,” a release from the ISBE read. “In addition, approximately 86,000 records are strongly suspected to have been viewed and the Board staff continues to identify those individuals. Anyone within that group will receive written notification within the next thirty days.”
The ISBE’s press release also noted that 3,533 records that were viewed will not be able to be identified, adding that hackers could have obtained voters’ personal information through the “complex attack."
Menzel also said Monday that FBI agents confirmed that the attacks were believed to be carried out by foreign hackers, although the perpetrators were not identified by country.
He said that he was also told that the FBI was looking into a potential link to the recent hack of the Democratic National Committee. U.S. officials suspect that hack was carried out by Russian government hackers.
“If a voter’s records were viewed, hackers could have obtained the voter’s name, address and date of birth,” the ISBE’s statement read. ”If the voter provided a phone number, email address, driver’s license number or the last four digits of his or her social security number when registration occurred, that information may also have been viewed.”
Nevertheless, the ISBE insisted that, even if a voter’s record was viewed, no records have been changed or altered.
Last month, a message was sent to all election authorities in Illinois saying a hack had been detected on July 12. As a precautionary measure, the state’s entire online voter registration system was shut down the next day and remained closed for several days.
At the time, Menzel told NBC Chicago that the state’s voter registration system is “kind of a prime target for hackers” because of the database’s collection of identifying information.
The FBI suggested that the Illinois and Arizona hacks could be linked, issuing a warning to election officials through a “flash” alert from its Cyber Division on Aug. 18.
However, the bureau would not confirm news of the alert, saying in a statement that “in furtherance of public-private partnerships, the FBI routinely advises private industry of various cyber threat indicators observed during the course of our investigations.”
“This data is provided in order to help systems administrators guard against the actions of persistent cyber criminals,” the statement reads.