Ransomware attack on America’s election infrastructure under investigation
(KYMA, KECY, CNN)- A 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 — home to Gainesville and located roughly an hour north of Atlanta — was disclosed on Oct. 7, but the impact to 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 affected systems were first reported by The Gainesville Times.
"We are currently bringing various programs back online, and those two items are included in that process," Crumley said.
"However, the voting process for our citizens has not been impacted due to the network issues."
Ransomware is the latest threat to the 2020 election. Here are the factsThe initial disclosure by county officials said that the attack had hit "critical systems within the Hall County Government networks" but provided few additional details.
Crumley declined to discuss further specifics, citing an ongoing investigation.
Ransomware is a type of malicious software that locks up a victim's computer and renders it unusable until the victim pays off the attacker, frequently in bitcoin.
This type of cyberattack is worsening, and in recent years ransomware attacks have hit targets as varied as Baltimore's city government, the website of an Illinois public health district and the University of California.
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.