"The officials say systems in the seven states were compromised in a variety of ways", NBC's report noted, "with some breaches more serious than others, from entry into state websites to penetration of actual voter registration databases".
While officials in Washington told several of the states ahead of the elections that foreign entities were probing their systems, none were told the Russian government was behind it, NBC News reported, citing unnamed state officials.
The intelligence community believes that hackers were able to enter election websites, voter registration systems and voter look-up systems.
US intelligence had evidence that voter registration systems or websites in seven states - Alaska, Arizona, California, Florida, Illinois, Texas and Wisconsin - were compromised by Russian-backed operatives before the 2016 election but never told the states. Earlier this month, the agency pushed back against a report from the news outlet that claimed Russian hackers had "successfully penetrated" USA voter systems before the election.
"The Department of Homeland Security confirmed that there was no new information to share and that there were no new attempts to scan Wisconsin's elections systems other than what had been reported past year", he said.
"In response to NBC's questions, we double-checked with (the Department of) Homeland Security and our other cyber security partners", Haas said. The state authorities and the intelligence officials all said they believe no votes were changed and no voters were taken off the rolls.
"This seems to be either old news or incorrect news", Michael Haas, administrator of the Wisconsin Elections Commission, said of the report. Nor does it say whether the "compromised" system in the state connected directly to voting or was an unrelated website.
DHS notified 21 states they had been targeted by Russian hackers in September, prompting criticism from state election officials that the agency had been too slow to alert them.
"We will continue to work collaboratively with the National Association of Secretaries of State and DHS on cyber security issues". Then, as now, intelligence officials say none of the breaches affected the 2016 vote. "In almost all states, only preparatory activity like scanning was observed". In almost all states, only preparatory activity like scanning was observed.
"It's got nothing to do with actually changing a vote, but you try to get into these different systems, because people don't understand necessarily how all of these pieces are very disconnected", Manfra said. "We stand by our state and local partners who are working diligently to secure the nation's election infrastructure in 2018 and beyond".