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False alarm: Democrats now say hacking attempt was just a test

A voter fills out a ballot Tuesday, March 8, 2016, at the Boise Senior Center during the primary election in Boise, Idaho. (Otto Kitsinger / AP)
A voter fills out a ballot Tuesday, March 8, 2016, at the Boise Senior Center during the primary election in Boise, Idaho. (Otto Kitsinger / AP)
By Bill Barrow Associated Press

CHICAGO – What the Democratic Party first thought was a malicious attempt to hack the party’s massive voter information file turned out to be just a security test.

Bob Lord, the Democratic National Committee’s chief security officer, said Thursday the attempted hack was “built by a third party as part of a simulated phishing test.”

“The test, which mimicked several attributes of actual attacks on the Democratic party’s voter file, was not authorized by the DNC, VoteBuilder nor any of our vendors,” Lord said.

Alarm bells went off Wednesday when the DNC said it was notified that hackers created a fake login page to gather usernames and passwords in an attempt to gain access to the party’s voter file, which contains information on tens of millions of voters. The party said the attempt was quickly thwarted by suspending the attacker’s account and that no information was compromised.

With less than three months before the November election, word that the DNC could have been hacked revived concerns about the security of the nation’s election system. Two years ago, Russian operatives sent the DNC into disarray by hacking into its computers and facilitating the release of tens of thousands of emails amid the presidential election.

A senior Democratic official said Thursday that the attempted breach was the result of the Michigan Democratic Party arranging a phishing attempt to test login security. The state party didn’t alert the DNC or the internet platform that hosts the data about their test, the official said.

The official wasn’t authorized to speak about sensitive security information and spoke to the Associated Press on condition of anonymity.

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