Ransomware attack disabled Georgia County Election database

Pierluigi Paganini October 26, 2020

A ransomware attack recently hit Georgia county government and reportedly disabled a database used to verify voter signatures.

A ransomware attack hit a Georgia county government early this month and disabled a database used to verify voter signatures in the authentication of absentee ballots. It is a common process to validate absentee ballots sent by mail by analyzing signatures.

The media pointed out that this is the first reported case of a ransomware attack against a system used in the incoming 2020 Presidential election.

Ransomware attacks could have a dramatic impact on the elections, they could disrupt voting systems and raise doubts about the validity of the vote.

The attack took place on October 7, it hit Hall County, in the northern part of the state and it disabled the county’s voter signature database.

“One of the databases the county uses to verify voter signatures on absentee ballots is not working after some county network outages due to a ransomware attack on Oct. 7.” reported the Gainesville Times. “Registration Coordinator Kay Wimpye with the county elections office said employees can still verify voter signatures by manually pulling hard copies of voter registration cards, which is more time-consuming. Most voter signatures can be verified using a state database that has been unaffected by the outages, she said.”

The media reported that the Hall County attack was carried out by Doppelpaymer ransomware operators that also leaked stolen data on their dark web leak site to force the organization to pay the ransom.

The county website published an update to announce that the attack did not impact the voting process for citizens, a situation that is differed from the scenario reported by the Times.

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Pierluigi Paganini

(SecurityAffairs – hacking, Georgia county)

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