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Ransomware feared as possible saboteur for November election

WASHINGTON (AP) — Federal authorities say one of the gravest threats to the November election is a well-timed ransomware attack that could paralyze voting operations. The threat isn't just from...

20 hours ago

Federal authorities are sounding the alarm about the potential for a ransomware attack that could paralyze critical U.S. election operations. Even if such an attack fails to disrupt elections, it could rattle confidence in the vote.

WASHINGTON (AP) — Federal authorities say one of the gravest threats to the November election is a well-timed ransomware attack that could paralyze voting operations. The threat isn't just from...

August 2, 2020 GMTFILE - This Feb 23, 2019, file photo shows the inside of a computer in Jersey City, N.J. Ransomware attacks targeting state and local governments have been on the rise, with cyber criminals seeking quick money by seizing data and holding it hostage until they get paid. The fear is that such attacks could affect voting systems directly or even indirectly, by infecting broader government networks that include electoral databases. (AP Photo/Jenny Kane, File)

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FILE - This Feb 23, 2019, file photo shows the inside of a computer in Jersey City, N.J. Ransomware attacks targeting state and local governments have been on the rise, with cyber criminals seeking quick money by seizing data and holding it hostage until they get paid. The fear is that such attacks could affect voting systems directly or even indirectly, by infecting broader government networks that include electoral databases. (AP Photo/Jenny Kane, File)

WASHINGTON (AP) — Federal authorities say one of the gravest threats to the November election is a well-timed ransomware attack that could paralyze voting operations. The threat isn’t just from foreign governments, but any fortune-seeking criminal.Ransomware attacks targeting state and local governments have been on the rise, with cyber criminals seeking quick money by seizing data and holding it hostage until they get paid. The fear is that such attacks could affect voting systems directly or even indirectly, by infecting broader government networks that include electoral databases.

ADVERTISEMENTEven if a ransomware attack fails to disrupt elections, it could nonetheless rattle confidence in the vote.On the spectrum of threats from the fantastical to the more probable, experts and officials say ransomware is a particularly realistic possibility because the attacks are already so pervasive and lucrative. The FBI and Department of Homeland Security have issued advisories to local governments, including recommendations for preventing attacks.

“From the standpoint of confidence in the system, I think it is much easier to disrupt a network and prevent it from operating than it is to change votes,” Adam Hickey, a Justice Department deputy assistant attorney general, said in an interview.The scenario is relatively simple: Plant malware on multiple networks that affect voter registration databases and activate it just before an election. Or target vote-reporting and tabulation systems.

“With the 2020 election, election infrastructure has a target on its back,” Colorado Secretary of State Jena Griswold said. “We know that election infrastructure was attempted to be undermined in 2016, and we know the techniques are shifting.”The number of attacks has escalated in recent years, with targets including Texas’ transportation agency and city computers in New Orleans. A December report by cybersecurity firm

Emsisoft trackedattacks against at least 966 entities that interrupted 911 services, rendered medical records inaccessible and hindered police background checks.“We’re seeing state and local entities targeted with ransomware on a near daily basis,” said Geoff Hale, a top election security official with Homeland Security’s Cybersecurity and Election Infrastructure Agency.

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Steps taken to improve security of voter registration systems after the 2016 election could help governments fend off election-related ransomware attacks. They’ve also acted to ensure they can recover quickly in the event of an attack.ADVERTISEMENTColorado, for example, stores redundant versions of its voter registration data at two separate secure locations so officials can easily shift operations. Backups are regular so the system can be quickly rebuilt if needed.

Even so, ransomware is an added concern for local election officials already confronting staffing and budget constraints while preparing for a shift from in-person voting to absentee balloting because of the pandemic.In West Virginia, state officials are more concerned about the cyberthreat confronting its 55 county election offices than a direct attack on the statewide voter registration system. One click from a county employee falling victim to a spearphishing attack could grant a hacker access to the county network and eventually to election systems.

“I’m more worried that those people who are working extra hours and working more days, the temporary staff that may be brought in to help process the paperwork, that all this may create a certain malaise or fatigue when they are using tools like email,” said David Tackett, chief information officer for the secretary of state.

In states that rely heavily on in-person voting and use electronic systems to check in voters, a well-timed attack particularly during early voting could prevent officials from immediately verifying a voter’s eligibility, making paper backups critical.

For states conducting elections entirely by mail, including Colorado, an attack near Election Day may have little effect on voting because ballots are sent early to all voters, with few votes cast in-person. But it could disrupt vote-tallying, forcing officials to process ballots by hand.

In many states, local officials will face an influx of new ballot requests. That means they’ll need constant access to voter data as they handle these requests. An attack could cause major disruptions.Hickey said he was unaware of ransomware attacks directly targeting election infrastructure. But local election offices are often connected to larger county networks and not properly insulated or protected.

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A criminal targeting a county or state “may not even know what parts of the network they got into,” Hickey said. But as the malware creeps along and spreads, “what gets bricked is the entire network — and that includes but is not limited to election infrastructure.”

Even if election infrastructure isn’t directly targeted, there would likely be immediate assumptions it was, said Ron Bushar of theFireEyecybersecurity company.A February advisory issued by the FBI and obtained by The Associated Press recommends local governments separate election-related systems from county and state systems to ensure they aren’t affected in an unrelated attack.

That’s how Louisiana’s election network survived multiple ransomware attacks: one occurred six days before the November election through an IT services company shared by the seven impacted counties. The second hit the state network a day after voting.

At a January meeting of state officials, Louisiana’s secretary of state highlighted the attacks as a blueprint for how an adversary like Russia could throw November into disarray.to the Louisiana attacks, said in an interview: “You put me in charge of a platoon of Russian hackers and give me a couple of years to stage this and I could pull this off.”

____Cassidy reported from Atlanta; Bajak reported from Boston. Read more: The Associated Press »

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Sounds like a scared parties propoganda or some more interference. As divided as our media jad Latvian and Lithuanian hackers intend to beat Russians to it and take over U.S. election operations. What another great reason to have mail in elections.. Fortunately we all have hand marked paper ballots that the election experts recommended. Not.

The most powerful country in the world cannot protect their elections. But spends the most money ever spent in human history on “defense”. What an embarrassment or “pretend” attacks for other motives. Paper ballots hello .. Democrat driven media hype. Ringing jennycohn1 ... There is already a 'ransom attack' on the election going on right now. I am not part of the intelligence services, but nonetheless I can tell you for sure that it's coming from... the president of the United States and from some members of his crime syndicate.

EVM's are too vulnerable! Paper ballots only Open precincts starting Saturday Hire & pay additional staff, Especially vote counters Paper ballots We should all get paper ballots and mail them in to be safe. It’s time to call the United Nations in to run our elections. This country is unable to do so anymore.

But the warnings are being ignored and swept under the rug by senatemajldr gopleader and the rest of the GOP including my senator sencorygardner. GOPVoterSuppression GOPBetrayedAmerica More like the democrats sounding alarm so they can have mail in ballots and cheat. Paper ballots. They will be batting for Trump.

It doesn’t work on paper - let’s go back to paper Who has confidence after we found out the rolls were hacked? Google 'Reality Winner Prison.' Sounds like tRump propaganda. Here we go, help Trump by reinforcing his idea the election is corrupt before it even happens. Go to paper ballots only to eliminate the potential and mail them in, count them by machine not connected to the internet, then have them recounted.

So basically the feds are admitting that since 2016 they haven’t secured our election process. Well done. I wonder who(Putin) would be behind that? And I wonder why the US ignored the common knowledge 'new' voting machines were highly susceptible to hacking? Don't let the Democrat supporters read this. They will call it a hoax.

Trump is an existential threat to 🇺🇸. he must be defeated and elected republicans of conscience must tell him if he attempts anything like this, he'll be impeached So a nice paper mail in ballot would be perfect to get around that. Something in hand to count rather than numbers in a computer. 😹 you mean the russian machines his daughter bought just might be trouble?!? letting foreign countries buy our surplus machines may have been a problem? who could have seen something like that coming...

The senate GOP has rejected three eletion security bills without offering one of their own. Its clear one party is concerned about election security and the other isnt. Pelosi for president! PA07 paper ballot. We will not know for months after legal challenges This article is an attempt to rattle election confidence.

Trump and his instigators sent you that story. Hmm I wonder if there's an alternative to electronic voting...let me think ..hmm Probably China, worried its pandemic didn't work. A company called Bio-key international $BKYI may have the solution You should report on the volume of regular election mail in votes. This is a non issue. Trump is planting fake news to try to instill fear. vote

I’m assuming trump is ok with it Paper ballots, bitches. Please, let’s figure out how to run a proper elections. High school proms manage this every single year, all over the country. Can’t ransomware mail in ballots.... I have an idea- restore the USPS and VOTE BY MAIL! You should know...the media is malware .

So you guys are starting the excuses early this year. Normally this doesn’t happen until October at least. Paper ballots would circumvent this... Oh right...I noticed omitted the word “foreign”... very well done. Solution to your problem is at your finger tips $BKYI 😉 Wait till the masses get suckered into the cashless society group think.

It's so easy to secure integrity of our elections, but certain politicians do and say anything to prevent that, while their sheep follow. It's ok, media are taking care of trying to rattle confidence in the vote already The left is building the narrative for the post election Biden loss. Cheating, you mean cheating

Exactly why the US Post office is a MUST!!!! inkedtater 🙄🙄🙄🙄 As long as trump loses I'm fine with it Wait wait. What about the murder hornets? You’re going straight to ransomware now? Electronic voting is still a bad idea. Voting machines are so easily hackable, it's hilarious. Have you seen the DefCon voting machine hackathon? We got Doom to run on a standard system and gained admin access to machines in as little as 15 seconds.

Kushners are working hard to make this happen Paper ballots The Russians and Chinese on the test phase. Actual deployment will come in November. Rattle confidence?! America is not that democratic anyway. Just mask up, a face shield if you like and get to the polls with your ID , it’s the only way you can be sure your vote is counted. Mass mail in vote will give you a 20% chance that your vote will NOT be counted!

So funny. 😂 The FBI, DOJ & the CIA tried to take out our duly elected President. Nobody has been held accountable. Other countries interfering in our elections is the least of our problems. Attention Shoppers: To insure your vote is counted, do NOT wait until November 3, 2020. To that end, vote as soon as your state allows 'early' voting – generally 5TH of October. That is all... CC: FoxNews CC: BBC CC: USATODAY CC: CNN BCC: NatlGovsAssoc

Another spin to force folks to acquiesce to mail-in voting. In-person, voter id is the only way. Wasn't there a bill sent to McConnell's desk to beef up security for the election? I wonder what happened to it...Oh yeah it's still sitting on his desk. We don’t need outside influences over our elections we have the mainstream media for that.

Computerized voting is a really profoundly bad idea. Now how is paper mail-in more corruptable? The FBI & Department of Homeland Security issued adviseries. These are the same people using tear gas, beanbag rounds, tear gas & kidnapping against peaceful protestors, medical teams & journalists at BLM & Defund the Police protests. This is the new corporate talking point. 😷

We need in person ballot voting with strong federal voter ID. Only morons would be opposed to this. Why would we want questionable voting Where is the voting being done online? Order you absentee ballot now! Drive it to your local election office and put it in the box. Post office or ransomware can’t stop that!

Mail in voting works for me. Let’s go!!! AP, a pathetic Democrat propaganda rag, will never scare people into the easily manipulated paper ballot method. Good old fashioned paper ballots for everyone except Military and handicapped can mail/absentee vote inkedtater WEAR A MASK AND GO TO THE POLLING LOCATIONS, BRING OUT THE OLD MANUAL VOTING MACHINES OR VOTE ABSENTEE BALLOT. EXTEND POLLING TIME MORNING AND EVENING ON ELECTION DAY TO ACCOMMOATE SOCIAL DISTANCING. THAT'S IT. HANGING CHADS ARE MORE ACCURATE THAN HACKED VOTING MACHINES.

Mail in votes are not the same as absentee ballots. Fraud is inescapable. pushingMailInVote Next up. Aliens. Try to ransomware a paper ballot Why do we only care about elections every four years. Why didn't we fix the 'election problems' after the last election or the one before that or the one...... This is obviously a political weapon each party uses to drum up their base.

Paper ballots? We do it in Canada, and we know the results the very same night. Safe, and proven... What “Federal Authorities” said this? How convenient. we should just postpone the election. Hmmm who are those 'Federal Authorities ' you speak of? No need for a ransomeware. Just keep on allowing Trump to tweet to 40M folks that the election is rigged for the next 3 months and they will believe it

. Please tell me why you’ve waited until now to publish this story? Irresponsible. You’ve known all these things for months/years. At this late stage you’re risking promoting voter suppression. WHY didn’t you publish earlier? That’s why mail-in is better. We have the press for that. I don’t hear the alarm. Where is it?

Trump will try anything to avoid elections. Fucken Russia Orchestré par les Barbouzes de Trump 😈!!! Donald & his best friend Vladimir want to manipulate US election like last time. Are we really so gullible as to think it would matter...? You can’t hack paper ballots filled out in person. By posting this article duh

So what are the Feds ding about it? What’s the Fed government doing? Serve protect constitution I think the current president is already doing all he can to “disrupt elections” and “rattle confidence in the vote.” How about a jar full of beans and you put a bean into the jar for your candidate. Mail in voting and all paper ballots would help solve the problem and serve as an audit trail.

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