The ransomware attack impacted the voting precinct map and voter signature database among other services.
A ransomware attack has hit the critical cyber infrastructure of the State of Georgia’s Hall County which has also affected its key voting system, local officials have revealed.
The ransomware attack which took place on October 7th initially targeted the Hall County Government networks. However, CNN reports that the attack “may be the first ransomware attack to hit election infrastructure this political season.”
The systems suffering service disruption after the attack include voting precinct map and voter signature database. According to Hall County spokesperson Katie Crumley, the County’s IT team is trying to recover from the attack and bring the service back online.
“The voting process for our citizens has not been impacted due to the network issues,” Crumley maintained.
It is worth noting that the ransomware attack did not specifically target the election-related system since other services including email and phone were also disrupted by the attack.
In a ransomware attack, users are locked out of the computer system while their files are encrypted. The attackers hold the data for ransom which is usually paid in Bitcoin or Monero cryptocurrency however most ransomware operators end up leaking data online if their demands are not met.
It is unclear who the ransomware operators were or whether the County paid any ransom. Nevertheless, last month, the Fourth District Court of Louisiana was hit by Conti ransomware after which the attackers posted proof of attack on the Dark Web by leaking some of the court’s sensitive files.
In February earlier this year, a Ryuk ransomware attack took over Florida’s Stuart Police Department computers with digital evidence on six suspected drug dealers. All suspects walked free as a result of the attack.
Speaking to Hackread.com, Sam Roguine, ransomware prevention evangelist at Arcserve said that the ransomware attack should not come as a surprise since a cyberattack affecting election infrastructure this year was inevitable, and the incident in Georgia validates the concerns held by many about threat actors interfering with voting systems.
Given the proximity of this attack to the election, it’s safe to assume that other attacks are in the works that we simply aren’t aware of yet […] It isn’t too late for government IT and security pros to take proactive action to minimize disruptions on election day, warned Roguine.
Roguine also emphasized keeping backup options in case of crippling cyberattacks hit multiple targets during elections.
It is a fact that there has been a massive surge in ransomware attacks as compared to the situation in 2018 where cyberattacks cost $45 billion with ransomware-type attacks caused $8 billion in damages.
However, as a government employee or business owner, you can protect yourself from these attacks by simply educating yourself on cybersecurity and threat prevention. Here is an exclusive and in-depth guide on preventing the growing issue of ransomware attacks.