Report: FEC system hacked during shutdown

Chinese hackers infiltrated the Federal Election Commission computer system during the government shutdown in October, according to the Center for Public Integrity

The attack came when the commission was at a near standstill as all but a handful of commissioners had been deemed nonessential during the shutdown and were not allowed to work. 

According to the report Tuesday, all 339 employees were furloughed during that time. The commission eventually brought staffers back to address the problem. 

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The revelation of the incident, which the center confirmed from three government sources, came in a wide-ranging article detailing inadequate funding, severe backlogs and low morale at the commission. 

Officials including those from the Department of Homeland Security, according to the report, are investigating the hacking incident. 

The center reported that the incident came after the FEC largely dismissed an independent audit last year that warned of a vulnerable information technology system. 

“Without adopting and implementing National Institute of Science and Technology minimum security controls, the FEC’s computer network, data and information is at an increased risk of loss, theft, manipulation, [and] interruption of operations,” according to the audit done by Leon Snead & Company.

The FEC told the center that hackers have targeted its computer system, but did not offer further details. 

Alec Palmer heads the FEC’s IT division and also acts as staff director. 

Commissioner Steven Walther told the Center for Public Integrity that Palmer should be removed from one of the two positions.