U.S. Officials Fear Ransomware Attack Against 2020 Election

The U.S. government plans to launch a program in roughly one month that narrowly focuses on protecting voter registration databases and systems ahead of the 2020 presidential election.

Yes, the ransomware problem is getting far worse.

In June we reported a $600,000 payment made to ransomware hackers and in the article, explained U.S. hacks have cost more than $3 trillion in ten years! Another story we reported was 22% of small and medium businesses have been hit by ransomware.

We also told you about mayors vowing not to pay ransomware attackers anymore  but that doesn’t mean much if behavior doesn’t change and it didn’t. Sadly. three days later we reported another attack taking place, La Porte County, Indiana got hit with the same Ryuk ransomware and their website and email went down.

No matter how much reporting is done on the issue – problems, and major ones persist. In fact 85% of security Pros say their organizations are struggling to maintain security configurations in the cloud. This is from a Tripwire survey release last week.

Intelligence officials are concerned that foreign hackers in 2020 not only will target the databases but attempt to manipulate, disrupt or destroy the data, according to current and former U.S. officials.

“We assess these systems as high risk,” said a senior U.S. official, because they are one of the few pieces of election technology regularly connected to the Internet.

The Cybersecurity Infrastructure Security Agency, or CISA, a division of the Homeland Security Department, fears the databases could be targeted by ransomware, a type of virus that has crippled city computer networks across the United States, including recently in Texas, Baltimore and Atlanta.

“Recent history has shown that state and county governments and those who support them are targets for ransomware attacks,” said Christopher Krebs, CISA’s director. “That is why we are working alongside election officials and their private sector partners to help protect their databases and respond to possible ransomware attacks.”

A ransomware attack typically locks an infected computer system until payment, usually in the form of cryptocurrency, is sent to the hacker.

The solutions to protecting from ransomware are usually easy to apply.

We suggest you read more about the problem – some of our past articles are especially useful:

Was Cleveland Airport Ransomware Attack Preventable?

Ransomware is a Plague – Here are Some Cures

Cloud Range Cyber: How Simulation Training Improves Cybersecurity

Why Trapx Got $18M for Deception Cybersecurity

Eliminate Phishing with SlashNext

Why Valimail Got $45M to Prevent Phishing

In addition and perhaps MOST important – we have focused specifically on election cybersecurity in the past with an article directly explaining how municipalities, cities, counties and the federal government can stay safe.

Even more important and immediate is our post on Why the U.S. Ranks 5th in Election Cybersecurity. The U.S. ranks behind Sweden, Northern Ireland, Germany, and Italy. Sadly the Republican National Committee or RNC ranks lowest in patching cadence out of all parties at just over 70 out a possible 100. It is essential that all election officials learn about political campaign cybersecurity immediately. Ransomware is only going to get worse and election information is a prime target for attackers as information needs to be restored quickly after an attack and desperate officials will likely spend money quite freely to get their precious data back.

 

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