Florida officials remain mum on election security breaches

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TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP) — Florida officials vowed transparency in securing next year's elections but are continuing to shed little light on how Russian hackers infiltrated systems in at least two Florida counties .

During a news conference in Tallahassee on Friday with state and federal officials, Florida Secretary of State Laurel Lee again hoped to reassure Floridians of the integrity of the state's voting systems.

The state launched — and completed — a review of its elections systems, she said, and poured millions of dollars into beefing up elections security leading into next year's nationally crucial elections.

"We now have additional information, more thorough information and are prepared to bolster and support that infrastructure in any way that is necessary in advance of 2020," she said.

However, lingering questions about Russian hacking during the 2016 election cycle continue to cloud those efforts.

Ever since special counsel Robert Mueller's report mentioned that a server of at least one Florida county had been breached, questions have persisted about how the breaches occurred and which counties were infiltrated.

Subsequent reports, later confirmed by Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, indicate that hackers broke into voting systems in at least two Florida counties.

Lee and other officials have declined to identify those counties, as she did again Friday. Lee says precaution is being taken to protect against further vulnerabilities.

Federal investigators have ordered elected officials who've been briefed on the breaches not to publicly identify the counties.

Although the state's review of statewide election systems have been completed, Lee said, her ability to share details may be limited.

"It is important to remember that specific information about defensive measures or cyberthreat indicators cannot be shared publicly, as that would weaken our security posture," Lee said. "That is the type of information our adversaries could in fact use to attack our infrastructure."

U.S. Attorney Lawrence Keefe, whose jurisdiction covers northern Florida, convened the news conference, allowing officials from various federal, state and local agencies to describe their role in the elections-security effort.

"Over the next 12 months leading up to the 2020 election, we will be working relentlessly together so the people of Florida can have faith that their votes will count," Keefe said.

Keefe and other officials declined to answer questions at the news conference, leaving that task to Lee.

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