US 'unprepared for' Russian 'influence campaign' in elections: Cybersecurity expert

"This Week" co-anchor Martha Raddatz interviews cybersecurity expert Niloofar Razi Howe and former National Counterterrorism Center Director and ABC News contributor Matthew Olsen.
4:25 | 07/29/18

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Transcript for US 'unprepared for' Russian 'influence campaign' in elections: Cybersecurity expert
We want to turn now to take a closer look at the cyber threat the US could face with cyber security expert Neil far rising how. And Matt Olson former director of the National Counterterrorism Center and an ABC news contributor. And I make this turn to you rather a Berkeley but it's what we've been talking about all morning. Election interference and whether that is a possibility. You Lou the attempt that was made on senator Mike castle's. Computer system in her office how concerned should we be about that. Well get it in me it's a pretty brazen attempt with center saying its attribution is typically. More of an art than a science but in this case we have so much information about the Russians in their playbook such insights into how they conduct their cyber operations. That Marcus I was able to use a standing court orders take down this malicious web site. So there's no question that the Russians are continuing to. Interfere in our democracy interfere in our elections. That that the probing that they're going up our infrastructures a piece of. At an end Matt what. Do you much harder to hack into their mid term sang I know you heard senator Lankford talk about social media and that's clearly a problem and getting into social media and and whatever news they put on there whatever opinions they tried to change. Yesterday there are thousands of a collection systems across the country so that makes a little at a makes it harder to do across the board attack. But what we've seen from the Russians are between sixteen is a more targeted approach they broke into. Collection systems and at least 21 states and it's not just election machines themselves that are vulnerable but the system is vulnerable. Because you think about down voter rolls for example registration rolls. Those are kept it on an ongoing basis and in those can be hacked. As well as of course campaigns themselves so that's why I think intelligence officials are sounding the alarm about pervasive and ongoing. Effort by the Russian. And in new what are we prepared for that we realized in 26. Apple shares was interesting we've actually change our concept of operations with respect to elections given what we learned through 2016. So the way the government is working to protect the election systems is very different today than it was back then. In 2016. Secretary Johnson under the Obama administration re shot to the states and offered help from the federal agencies. The State's you know we unilaterally said no this is a state process we don't want your help. Today all fifty states are working. With the federal government in using the resource as a father federal government to protect themselves so our election systems today are much better protected than they were in 2016. That they were on prepared for is the influence campaign. That Russia has undertaken the attempt to undermine our democracy to undermine our power to turn Americans against themselves and against their institutions. That's the long played that they're going force I think we can be so confident that the election itself is protected. We ought to be very concerned about the long term strategic. Goals that the Russians have been. And that you sunny bring up that New York Times story about the electric grid and reports that they're trying to hack into I think Rick Perry said there. A million attempts in and day to two outside companies. Yes are we know that the Russians have sought to have been successful in fact that infiltrating. Some of that got company's control rooms of the of the companies that run. The electric grid in this country this is not just an idle threat we know for example the Russians were successful in Ukraine 20152016. Taking down. The electric grid turning off the lights this is now where that actually destroys. Destroys system cynicism there's real reason to be concerned. About the soundness. Or that the Russian effort to attack on electric. It's so sacred cake at the public's attention about the senate about cyber security I think I keep planning to talk about it each Sunday or whenever we possibly can't. Because it's it's hard to understand it's confusing so bottom line new and we just took a couple of seconds here. How concerned should we be and what can we do. We should be very concerned pike again about the long term goal here which is to undermine our democracy and the fact that the Russians are bringing. Every aspect of cyber capabilities the table from offensive cyber operations. To the influence campaign that they've they've taken on. That the probe into her electric grid is absolutely preparing the battlefield for the possibility of conflict with the United States. So we ought to think about it we ought to elevate the conversation actually. Rise above the fray. And focus on what we need to do is a country OK I hope we can do that thanks to broken you.

This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.

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