South Carolina's voter registration system was reportedly hit by almost 150,000 hack attempts on Election Day 2016.
According to a post-election report by the South Carolina State Election Commission, it is likely that most of the hacking attempts came from automated computer bots, the Wall Street Journal reported on Sunday (16 July).
President Donald Trump comfortably won the state of South Carolina in the November election. However, WSJ reports that there is no evidence to suggest that the attempted cyberattacks targeting the state's voter registration system were successful.
"Security has been a top priority for the [State Election Commission] since implementing the statewide voting system in 2004," Chris Whitmire, the State Election Commission's director of public information and training, told WSJ.
"However, events leading up to the 2016 General Election, including the breaches of other states' voter-registration systems, created an election-security environment that was very different."
In September 2016, Department of Homeland Security (DHS) officials remotely conducted a "cyber-hygiene scan" for South Carolina that examined the state agency's websites and office networks for potential vulnerabilities.
The scan didn't examine vote-tabulation machines, which aren't connected to the internet, or the statewide voter-registration database.
According to the DHS report reviewed by WSJ, the DHS found 55 vulnerabilities across four internet-connected devices used by the State Election Commission – two of which were marked as "critical".
Whitmire said that if a hacker did manage to successfully exploit these vulnerabilities, they could have targeted the agency's public-facing website which would "severely damage our public's trust."
By Election Day, South Carolina had fixed all but one low-risk vulnerability, the report noted.
According to the report, hackers and automated bots tried to penetrate the statewide voter registration system 149,832 times on 8 November. By 13 December, the number of attempts dropped to 113,372.
Last month, Jeanette Manfra, the DHS' acting deputy undersecretary of cybersecurity told the Senate Intelligence Committee that there is evidence that 21 states' election systems were targeted by foreign hackers ahead of US Election Day.
Manfra did not specify which states were targeted but noted that systems were breached in a smaller number of states. Last year, Arizona and Illinois confirmed that their own voter registration systems were targeted by foreign hackers.
The latest report comes amid the ongoing federal investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election and alleged ties between Trump's campaign and Moscow.
In January, the US intelligence community assessed with the "highest confidence" that Russian President Vladimir Putin had ordered a wide-ranging, multi-faceted "influence campaign" to hurt Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton's campaign and help Donald Trump win the race to the White House.
The operation also included cyber operations, email hacking and online propaganda, officials said.
Intelligence officials also warned that Moscow will "apply lessons learned from its Putin-ordered campaign" against the US election "to future influence efforts worldwide, including against US allies and their election processes."
The Kremlin has vehemently denied responsibility for any cyberattacks during the election. Earlier this month, Trump cast doubts over Russia's alleged attempts to interfere in the election.
"I think it was Russia and I think it could have been other people in other countries," Trump said in Poland during a joint press conference with Polish President Andrzej Duda. "It could have been a lot of people interfered.
"Nobody really knows. Nobody really knows for sure."