Ransomware gangs have officially entered the 2020 election fray, with reports of one of the first breaches of the voting season, on Hall County, Ga. The county’s database of voter signatures was impacted in the attack along with other government systems.
Although the county said the voting process hasn’t been impacted by the ransomware attack, the incident is a warning to other municipalities to lock down their systems, particularly in these last days leading up to the election.
Hall County sits about an hour north of Atlanta and first reported the attack on Oct. 7.
Ransomware attacks involve a criminal introducing malware into the target’s systems, which then takes over an organization’s data and encrypts it until a ransom is paid.
Patching & Training
To keep systems protected at such a sensitive time, two simple things can make a big difference: Patching and employee training, according to Daniel Norman, senior solutions analyst at Information Security Forum.
“Moving forward, end users should receive ample security awareness, education and training on the threat of ransomware, particularly its delivery mechanism,” Norman said in an emailed statement. “Typically, the success of ransomware is reliant on whether or not the target organization has patched its devices properly. Therefore, having all systems patched and up-to-date is a minimal for security.”
Ransomware is on the rise across the globe thanks to the pandemic, up more than 109 percent over last year, according to SonicWall’s 2020 Cyber Threat Report.
As for Hall County, their spokeswoman Katie Crumley declined to provide a comment to Threatpost, beyond the press release, “for security purposes.” The statement said the county “has enlisted the assistance of third-party cyber security professionals to expedite the recovery.”