Georgia Election System Data Breach Under Investigation by FBI

Media Division | March 22, 2017

Political organizations and systems tend to be high-value targets for many cyber attackers.  Attacks like these can be to gain valuable intelligence, disrupt critical processes, and for various other malicious purposes.  One of the most well-known political associated attacks was the hacking of the DNC during the 2016 presidential election period.  But in a more recent attack, it appears that election systems employed by Georgia Secretary of State may have been subject to a data breach.

What Was Affected in the Attack

The breach happened earlier this month upon the Center for Elections Systems at Kennesaw State University.  These systems are used to maintain voting machines, and facilitate voting throughout all counties in Georgia.  According to a statement from the university, “Kennesaw State officials are working with federal law enforcement officials to determine whether and to what extent a data breach may have occurred involving records maintained by the Center for Election Systems.”  Sources have said that the attack happened on March 1st and that the hacker was able to compromise millions of voter records.  The Georgia Secretary of State’s Office has said that the incident was not related to their own database and that theirs was never breached. The governor’s office had asked the Georgia Bureau Investigation (GBI) to contact the FBI after learning the extent of the attack.

There has not been much information released as far as the details of the attack.  A large question in regard to this breach is whether the attack itself is political in nature, or simply a hacker purloining information to sell for illicit gains.  The university has said, “Because this involved a pending criminal investigation Kennesaw State will have no further comment on this matter and any inquiries should be addressed to the U.S. Attorney’s Office.” As the investigation continues, perhaps further details of the attack will be released, including how the breach was effected, as well as how systems will be remedied to prevent further attacks.

There has been a large amount of concern for the security of elections and associated systems ever since the earlier DNC hacking.  Even countries in Europe have expressed that they are worried about potential attacks upon election processes.  For instance, France had issued a warning to the Kremlin to not interfere in their presidential election after apparent signs of a hacking and disinformation campaign against a candidate who is unsympathetic toward Russia.

As mentioned above, political processes, systems, and organizations tend to be large targets for a multitude of cyber attackers.  Cyber attacks have become a whole new front of warfare and can be extremely detrimental to a country or state.  In fact, even NATO has opted to include cyber as an official operational domain of warfare.

Recovering From a Cyber Attack with Data Breach Solutions

Data breaches can be an extremely detrimental occurrence to an organization.  Whether it be a political institution or otherwise, a data breach can cause a wide range of losses, including data, money, reputation, and trust.  When an organization suffers a breach, one of the most critical factors is how they respond and react to it.  Many data breaches can be recovered from, depending on whether the organization takes quick and appropriate actions to mitigate and repair it.  Data breach solutions must be rapidly applied to address the situation.  Improper, neglectful or lackadaisical response to a breach could, in fact, be the downfall of an organization.  Massive Alliance’s wide range of data breach solutions can help an organization to properly address a breach.

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