It has been reported by CNN that Local officials initially released few details by stating that “critical systems within the Hall County Government networks” had been affected.
However, the incident “may be the first ransomware attack to hit election infrastructure this political season.”
Katie Crumley, the spokesperson of Hall County, said that the county’s voter signature database and voting precinct map were heavily impacted by the attack.
The ransomware attack took down Hall County’s voting precinct map and voter signature database https://t.co/30D9ngNfbK — Cointelegraph (@Cointelegraph) October 23, 2020
Crumley noted that the county is in the process of bringing affected systems back online, including the map and database.
“The voting process for our citizens has not been impacted due to the network issues.”
It has been analyzed that the attackers are not believed to have targeted Hall County’s voting systems specifically, with many of the county services being disrupted including phone and e-mail.
Brett Callow, the threat analyst and ransomware expert at malware lab Emsisoft, noted that US local government entities have been falling victim to ransomware attacks at a rate of approximately three per week, although he believes the impact on voting is more likely to be “collateral damage.”
“We’ll see more incidents impacting voting systems ahead of election day with the impact going beyond mere technical damage. There is also a very real risk that they may shake voter confidence in the integrity of the vote, especially as confidence may already be quite low.”
Likewise, concerns have been mounting around the threat ransomware may pose to the US presidential election for weeks, with security firm NTT warning last month that criminal actors may have already penetrated key government networks and could waiting to cause havoc closer to the election.
Callow said that criminals were interested in gaining maximum leverage.
Thus, he concluded:
“What better time to extort money from a government by holding its systems to ransom than the time those systems are needed the most?”