IT Pro is supported by its audience. When you purchase through links on our site, we may earn an affiliate commission. Learn more

Election officials are vulnerable to phishing attacks, report warns

Less than 20% of election administrators have implemented advanced anti-phishing cyber security controls

Several county and local election officials are using email systems that could leave them vulnerable to phishing attacks, according to an Area 1 Security report.

Area 1 Security, in partnership with Americans for Cybersecurity, analyzed state and local election administrators’ susceptibility to phishing attacks. According to the report, 53.24% of election administrators use only simple or nonstandard technologies to protect themselves from phishing attacks, while only 18.61% have implemented advanced anti-phishing cybersecurity controls.

A troubling 5.42% of election administrators use personal email addresses or personal email technology for election-related matters too. 

According to Area 1 Security, several election administrators independently manage their custom email infrastructure as well.

In an interview with The Wall Street Journal, Area 1 Security CEO Oren Falkowitz explained: “When you run your own service and you don’t partner with someone to professionally manage it, it means you have to be perfect every single day. That’s really hard."

Area 1 Security says it found officials in six small jurisdictions in Michigan, Missouri, Maine and New Hampshire using Exim too. In May, the National Security Agency warned that threat actors linked to the Russian military intelligence agency - the same actors who interfered with previous elections - have targeted the version of Exim these officials are using.

Government agencies nationwide have faced ransomware attacks, many of which began with malicious email messages, security experts told The Wall Street Journal

At an online conference held by the National Association of Secretaries of State, a top Department of Homeland Security election security official stated malicious software targeting computer systems used by election officials remains an issue.

“We’ll see that ransomware will come and take down the county network, which has an impact on the election network, even though it wasn’t being targeted,” explained Matt Masterson, senior adviser on election security for the Department of Homeland Security. “It may have an impact on, particularly, a local office’s ability to run elections.”

For hackers looking to undermine the upcoming election, underprepared election administrators are an easy target. Election administrators claim security testing and monitoring of election networks is better now than it was in 2016, though. More counties are using paper-ballot voting machines as a backup. 

Featured Resources

Activation playbook: Deliver data that powers impactful, game-changing campaigns

Bringing together data and technology to drive better business outcomes

Free Download

In unpredictable times, a data strategy is key

Data processes are crucial to guide decisions and drive business growth

Free Download

Achieving resiliency with Everything-as-a-Service (XAAS)

Transforming the enterprise IT landscape

Free Download

What is contextual analytics?

Creating more customer value in HR software applications

Free Download

Recommended

Education and government most at risk from email threats
phishing

Education and government most at risk from email threats

26 Nov 2021
Hackers use Linux backdoor on compromised e-commerce sites with software skimmer
malware

Hackers use Linux backdoor on compromised e-commerce sites with software skimmer

19 Nov 2021
Iranian hackers ramp up attacks against IT services sector
hacking

Iranian hackers ramp up attacks against IT services sector

19 Nov 2021
TikTok phishing campaign tried to scam over 125 influencer accounts
social media

TikTok phishing campaign tried to scam over 125 influencer accounts

18 Nov 2021

Most Popular

Europe's first autonomous petrol station opens in Lisbon
automation

Europe's first autonomous petrol station opens in Lisbon

23 May 2022
16 ways to speed up your laptop
Laptops

16 ways to speed up your laptop

13 May 2022
Nvidia pauses hiring to help cope with inflation
Careers & training

Nvidia pauses hiring to help cope with inflation

23 May 2022