House Rep. Dave Belton confirms state computer hacking allegation

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By Tia Lynn Ivey

managing editor

Georgia House Representative Dave Belton confirmed a story that made national headlines this week when he visited Morgan County for the 2016 Legislative Forum on Tuesday, Dec. 13.

The Wall Street Journal (WSJ) reported on Dec. 8 that the State of Georgia’s computer system responsible for election security thwarted an attempted cyber hacking from The Department of Homeland Security (DHS).

“The secretary of state of Georgia is asking the Department of Homeland Security to explain what appears to be an attempted breach of the state’s computer systems that house its voter registration database by someone in the federal government.

In a letter to Department of Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson dated Thursday, Georgia’s Secretary of State Brian Kemp said the state had discovered an unsuccessful attempt to breach the firewall of state computer systems. The attempt occurred on Nov. 15 and was linked to an IP address associated with DHS,” wrote Byron Tau, a reporter for WSJ.

Belton, a Republican house representative, commented on the allegation at last week’s forum.

“It happened,” said Belton. “I spoke to our Secretary of State Brian Kemp and it happened. It did happen and we are very upset about it. They don’t know why but they want to find out.”

“At no time has my office agreed to or permitted DHS to conduct penetration testing or security scans of our network,” wrote Kemp to the DHS. “Moreover, your department has not contacted my office since this unsuccessful incident to alert us of any security event that would require testing or scanning of our network.”

Belton speculated that the incident could result in Kemp asking Georgia Lawmakers to allocate more funding for cyber protection.

“The next war is going to be cyber-warfare,” said Belton. That how the next war is going to begin, so we want to make sure we are on the cutting edge of that.”

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