While Pennsylvania officials were notified Friday that attempts were made to hack its election systems, warnings about their vulnerability were raised nearly a year ago. There is currently no evidence of a successful breach, but the key state had already been identified as a possible target.
Ben Johnson, chief strategist for cybersecurity firm Carbon Black, told CBS News in Sept. 2016 that the state was a particularly ideal target. Responding to a comment by Trump that the Democratic National Committee leak might have been brought by an individual “sitting on their bed that weighs 400 pounds,” Johnson said, “If I was a 400-pound hacker, I would target Pennsylvania.”
According to CBS, counties throughout the state use high-risk machines to record votes without paper trails, and many run on systems such as Windows XP, which are outdated and in need of replacement.
Johnson noted that the absence of a paper receipts is cause for concern. “If you buy something in the store with a credit card, you get a receipt. But if you cast your vote for president of the United States, you get nothing,” he said.
Aside from its vulnerable systems, Pennsylvania held a whopping 20 electoral votes, making it all the more appealing for hackers.
Pennsylvania was only one of 21 states targeted in advance of the last presidential election. A full list is available here.