With U.S. officials openly blaming Russia for hacker attacks on state election computer systems, and the myriad possibilities for election chaos such attacks raise, it’s important to put them in proper context. I went to Harri Hursti, a globally-known election security consultant, for some answers. Hursti cut his teeth in the Finnish military fending off electronic attacks, so he has valuable perspective – particularly on a unique part of Russian culture which could explain who is really behind the attacks. He also explains the potential for psychological warfare in this incident, and why it all feels a bit familiar to his Cold War sensibilities.

Harri Hursti developed the Hursti Hack(s), in which he demonstrated how the voting results produced by the Diebold Election Systems voting machines could be altered. HBO turned the Hursti Hack into a documentary called “Hacking Democracy” which was nominated for an Emmy award for outstanding investigative journalism. Hursti is co-author of several studies on data and election security, and his consultancy. Nordic Innovation Labs, advises governments around the world on election vulnerabilities.

Between 1984-1989, Hursti worked for the UNESCO and the Finnish military in technology and cyber defense initiatives.

What do you think of the news that a member of Congress says there is “no doubt” that Russia is behind recent attacks on state election systems: (

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Bob Sullivan is author of the Red Tape Chronicles and two NYT best sellers. As seen on CNBC, TODAY, and O! Magazine.