(Associated Press) - The federal government on Friday told election officials in 21 states, including Alaska, that hackers targeted their systems before last year's presidential election.
The notification came roughly a year after U.S. Department of Homeland Security officials first said states were targeted by hacking efforts possibly connected to Russia.
Being targeted does not mean that sensitive voter data was manipulated or results were changed. A hacker targeting a system without getting inside is similar to a burglar circling a house checking for unlocked doors and windows.
Even so, the widespread nature of the attempts and the year long lag time in notification from Homeland Security raised concerns among some election officials and lawmakers.
For many states, the Friday calls were the first official confirmation of whether their states were on the list — even though state election officials across the country have been calling for months for the federal government to share information about any hacks, as have members of Congress.
The government did not say who was behind the hacking attempts or provide details about what had been sought. But election officials in several states said the attempts were linked to Russia.
Federal officials said that in most of the 21 states the targeting was preparatory activity such as scanning computer systems.
The targets included voter registration systems but not vote tallying software. Officials said there were some attempts to compromise networks but most were unsuccessful.
Only Illinois reported that hackers had succeeded in breaching its voter systems.