FBI detects breaches against two state voter systems

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FBI Expands Hacking Investigation

WASHINGTON, Aug 29 (Reuters) - The FBI is urging U.S. election officials to increase computer security after it uncovered evidence that hackers have targeted two state election databases in recent weeks, according to a confidential advisory.

The warning was in an Aug. 18 flash alert from the FBI's Cyber Division. Reuters obtained a copy of the document.

Yahoo News first reported the story Monday, citing unnamed law enforcement officials who said they believed foreign hackers caused the intrusions.

RELATED: Recent hack revealed Democratic Congress members' phone numbers

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Hack reveals Democratic Congress members' phone numbers
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Hack reveals Democratic Congress members' phone numbers
UNITED STATES - FEBRUARY 11: Rep. Corrine Brown, D-Fla., attends a news conference at the DNC where members of the Congressional Black Caucus PAC endorsed Hillary Clinton for president, February 11, 2016. (Photo By Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)
Representative James Clyburn, a Democrat from South Carolina, speaks during the Democratic National Convention (DNC) in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, U.S., on Thursday, July 28, 2016. Division among Democrats has been overcome through speeches from two presidents, another first lady and a vice-president, who raised the stakes for their candidate by warning that her opponent posed an unprecedented threat to American diplomacy. Photographer: David Paul Morris/Bloomberg via Getty Images
UNITED STATES - JUNE 29: Rep. Dutch Ruppersberger, D-Md., attends a rally with lawmakers and gun violence victims to call for action on gun safety measures on the steps of the Cathedral of the Incarnation in Baltimore, Md., June 29, 2016. (Photo By Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)
UNITED STATES - MAY 16: Rep. John Garamendi, D-Calif., speaks at a news conference in the Capitol Visitor Center on the Smith-Amash Amendment to the FY2013 National Defense Authorization Act that would 'prevent the indefinite detention of and use of military custody for individuals detained on U.S. soil - including U.S. citizens - and ensure access to due process and the federal court system, as the Constitution provides.' (Photo By Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)
UNITED STATES - JULY 21: Rep. John Yarmuth, D-Ky., speaks with a reporter at the Senate subway on Tuesday, July 21, 2015. (Photo By Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)
Rep. Steve Cohen, D-Tenn., talks to reporters as members of the House of Representatives received a closed intelligence briefing from FBI Director James Comey and Secretary of Homeland Security Jeh Johnson on the mass shooting at an LGBT club in Orlando, on Capitol Hill in Washington, Tuesday, June 14, 2016. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)
Rep. Sanford Bishop, D-Ga., speaks during a commemoration ceremony for the 150th anniversary of the ratification of the 13th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution which abolished slavery in the United States, Wednesday, Dec. 9, 2015, in Emancipation Hall on Capitol Hill in Washington. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)
Rep. Robert Brady, D-Penn., speaks during the first day of the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia , Monday, July 25, 2016. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)
Rep. Charlie Rangel, D-NY, speaks about the New York Police Department's stop and frisk policy, Thursday, June 7, 2012, during a news conference on Capitol Hill in Washington. (AP Photo/Haraz N. Ghanbari)
Rep. Joyce Beatty, D-Ohio, speaks during the final day of the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia , Thursday, July 28, 2016. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)
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U.S. intelligence officials have become increasingly worried that hackers sponsored by Russia or other countries may attempt to disrupt the November presidential election.

Officials and cyber security experts say recent breaches at the Democratic National Committee and elsewhere in the Democratic Party were likely carried out by people within the Russian government. Kremlin officials have denied the allegations of Moscow's involvement.

Concerns about election computer security prompted Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson to convene a conference call with state election officials earlier this month, when he offered the department's help in making their voting systems more secure.

The FBI warning did not identify the two states targeted by cyber intruders, but Yahoo News said sources familiar with the document said it referred to Arizona and Illinois, whose voter registration systems were penetrated.

Citing a state election board official, Yahoo News said the Illinois voter registration system was shut down for 10 days in late July after hackers downloaded personal data on up to 200,000 voters.

The Arizona attack was more limited and involved introducing malicious software into the voter registration system, Yahoo News quoted a state official as saying. No data was removed in that attack, the official said. (Writing by David Alexander; Editing by Lisa Von Ahn)

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