Department of Homeland Security (DHS) officials said Friday they have identified the cause of an incident that led the state of Georgia to accuse the agency of attempting to hack its network.
Last week, Georgia Secretary of State Brian Kemp sent a letter DHS head Jeh Johnson asking why the state’s systems had logged what he called an attempt to breach its network coming from a DHS internet address. Kemp said an attacker had tried to scan his systems.
DHS officials told reporters on a conference call Friday that the attempted entry came from an employee at the state's Federal Law Enforcement Training Center who was accessing Georgia's database of licensed security personnel. The training center regularly accesses that database to verify that potential employees are licensed.
Based on the data provided by Kemp, the DHS was able to identify why the alarm was triggered, it said: The center employee cut and pasted data from the website into Microsoft Excel. Excel sent out what’s known as an HTTP option command, a request for server information.
DHS officials said Microsoft verified its conclusions.
Option commands are not rare; DHS claims its systems send out more than 4,200 every business day.
“This is not unusual traffic,” an official said. “I don’t know why they flagged it.”
Johnson sent Kemp a reply to this affect Monday, but the secretary of State was not satisfied with his answer.
On Wednesday, he wrote to Donald TrumpDonald TrumpGraham says he hopes that Trump runs again Trump says Stacey Abrams 'might be better than existing governor' Kemp Executive privilege fight poses hurdles for Trump MORE to ask the president-elect to investigate.
“Last night I received a letter from Secretary Johnson which lacked any specific information as to the attacks’ intent or origin,” Kemp wrote to Trump.