Election officials say they’re getting suspicious emails that may be part of malicious attack on voting: report


Election officials said they are getting suspicious emails that could be a part of a widespread malicious attack on voting across several states, The Wall Street Journal reported on Monday.

Several emails identified by the Elections Infrastructure Information Sharing and Analysis Center (EI-ISAC) appeared to impersonate state elections directors, according to a private alert sent Friday and reviewed by the Journal. 

These emails requested the election official recipients click on a link to get two-factor authentication hardware, but the EI-ISAC, an information sharing group, did not find malicious links or attachments in most of the emails sampled. 

Another set of emails impersonated voters with disabilities who were asking about ways to vote from home. 

“Some of these emails were designed to mimic standard correspondence that election officials would expect to receive … which increases the risk that an official might click a malicious link,” the alert said.

Officials began reporting these emails to the EI-ISAC on Oct. 15, it reportedly added. 

“While these phishing messages appear to be part of a widespread campaign, the source and motive remain unclear,” the alert said.

The alert noted that the emails have not been connected to any foreign adversaries and do not seem to be very coordinated or sophisticated, a person familiar with the matter told the Journal. 

The source told the newspaper that the EI-ISAC, which was formed in 2018 to communicate with election officials across the U.S., sent out the alert to remind officials to be careful after receiving reports that some users were clicking links in suspicious emails. 

An EI-ISAC spokesman told The Hill that the center “can’t discuss the details of individual cases or members” but it has “seen nothing to indicate the identified messages are connected to each other, or part of a broader coordinated campaign.”

“Election officials across the country continue to remain vigilant in identifying and reporting suspicious activity to protect the vote,” the spokesman said in a statement.

The Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency, which works with the center, did not immediately respond to a request for comment from The Hill.

Last week, Director of National Intelligence John Ratcliffe announced the discovery of a series of threatening emails sent to voters that appeared to come from a far-right group but had in fact been traced to Iran, although Tehran has denied the allegations.

Concerns about cybersecurity have ramped up since U.S. intelligence concluded Russia interfered in the 2016 election, attempting to boost now-President Trump. 

–Updated on Oct. 27 at 10:52 a.m.

Tags 2016 election interference 2020 election 2020 election interference 2020 presidential election Donald Trump EI-ISAC election interference election officials Election Security Elections Infrastructure Information Sharing and Analysis Center John Ratcliffe suspicious emails
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