Hundreds of pages of records obtained from the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) through a Freedom of Information Act request reveals that the Obama administration attempted "to penetrate the Georgia Secretary of State’s firewall." This is according to then-Georgia Secretary of State Brian Kemp, now governor.
DHS then scanned the election systems of five US states in 2016, Judicial Watch has uncovered. According to the documents, the Obama administration's election systems scanning affected Alaska, Georgia, Kentucky, Oregon, and West Virginia.
Kemp accused the DHS under Obama of attempting to illicitly scan his site on Feb. 2, Feb. 28, May 23, and Nov. 15, 2016.
According to minutes obtained by the FOIA request, "Microsoft and the ESOC [Enterprise Security Operations Center] with the assistance of FLETC [Federal Law Enforcement Training Center], were able to confirm that the user non-maliciously copied and pasted elements of the website to an excel document, which triggered the HTTP 'OPTIONS' request."
A Microsoft email statement regarding the event claimed that "[after] looking at the data I do not see requests that look malicious in nature or appear to be attempting to exploit a vulnerability."
An "Alaska update" noted that "this activity was a NPPD [DHS’s National Protection and Programs Directorate] employee investigating twitter reports of compromise on an AK [Alaska] Election System, as part of his normal duties."
A similar "Oregon update" also noted that they observed the same actions from the DHS, but the state "agreed there was nothing suspicious and closed the investigation."
"Normal web traffic from DHS" was also noted in Kentucky and West Virginia "updates."
In Dec. 2016, an email exchange between the DHS and the Customs and Border Protection (CBP) Cyber Security Operations Center that the same CBP IP address was used to scan Princess Cruise Lines, but an ESOC assessment concluded that the "CBP computer was just doing normal web browsing." The email alleges the same in regard to the Georgia Secretary of State.
The CBP cybersecurity official continued by asking "who made this assessment that all of this activity was just 'normal browsing'?" and further asked for a definition of "normal browsing."
In Jan. 2017, the DHS Inspector General wrote a signed letter to Secretary Kemp asking for evidence of the DHS breach and that an investigation into the matter was underway.
In July of that year, the Inspector General reported to the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform "that DHS employee interactions with the Georgia systems were limited to routine searches for publicly available information on the state’s public website and that none of the web pages visited were related to elections or voters."
Commenting on the evidence, Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton suggested that the "Obama DHS was caught scanning the Georgia Secretary of State's website in 2016 and these documents show that details about the controversy may have been 'overwritten.'"