As reported by CNN, Georgia county is ground zero for what may be the first ransomware attack to hit election infrastructure this political season. The attack on Hall County —located roughly an hour north of Atlanta — was disclosed on Oct. 7, but the impact on election infrastructure is only now coming to light.
Among the county’s affected systems were a voter signature database, as well as a voting precinct map hosted on the county’s website, according to Katie Crumley, a Hall County spokesperson. The attackers in this case do not appear to have specifically targeted election systems; other county functions, including phone and email services, were also disrupted. Ransomware attackers are typically financial criminals driven by profit, experts say, not political actors with a political motive.
Dealing with a ransomware attack at any time can be a stressful headache, but when it could potentially impact the future with an election, it soon turns up the heat. The American government will be on high alert to all kinds of cyberattacks over the next few days so awareness remains key for all staff.
Although ransomware is usually financially motivated, it can also be used as a disruptor as there are malicious actors who revel in watching organisations, political parties or businesses fall to their knees.
That said, Trump said earlier this week that “nobody gets hacked”, so it will be interesting to see if he were to use this excuse if he doesn’t win another term in the presidential office.