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Ransomware bites an election office

A recent ransomware attack against Hall County, Georgia, disrupted multiple government systems, including an IT system related to election administration. While officials first reported the attack Oct. 7 as disrupting phone and email services, it was disclosed yesterday that it also disabled a database used to analyze signatures on absentee ballots. The county can still access a similar statewide database, and the actual voting process has not been interrupted, but the incident appears to be the first ransomware event this year that's hit an election-related system, a scenario IT and election officials have dreaded. Benjamin Freed has the latest.

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City CISOs: Assemble

A group of big-city CISOs recently formed an organization to help each other with sharing threat intelligence, improving cyber defenses and educating their constituents about online risks. During a CyberTalks panel yesterday, San Francisco’s Michael Makstman, Boston’s Greg McCarthy and Dallas' Brian Gardner said the group was born out of a realization that their jobs have become hugely influential on how their cities interact with residents. “With the majority of citizens living in cities, we have a real direct impact on our constituents,” McCarthy said. Ben has more.

Russia blamed for local intrusions

U.S. officials yesterday formally blamed a series of recent intrusions of state and local networks on a hacking group linked to Russia. In an alert, the FBI and CISA said the group, which goes by several names including Energetic Bear and TEMP.Isotope, "successfully compromised network infrastructure, and as of October 1, 2020, exfiltrated data from at least two victim servers." While the group targeted election support systems, the agencies said there was no impact to voter registration or the tallying of votes. Sean Lyngaas reports for CyberScoop.

North Carolina AG pins disinformation on Trump

While officials are defending election-related IT, they're also continuing the fight against misinformation and disinformation aimed at undermining voter's confidence. And on a call with reporters yesterday, North Carolina Attorney General Josh Stein laid much of the blame at the feet of President Donald Trump. “There’s been people, namely the president, encouraging people to vote twice, which is illegal in North Carolina,” Stein said. Ben has the story

Quarantine's been good for New Jersey court cyber hygiene

Remote work hasn't been all bad for New Jersey's courts, the state judiciary's CISO, Sajed Naseem, said during CyberTalks yesterday. Although judges, lawyers and support staff are physically disconnected right now, Naseem said quarantine’s actually enabled him to speak with his people more frequently — over video chats — which has had the pleasant benefit of improving the court system's cybersecurity awareness. Ryan Johnston has details.

A parting gift from NASCIO

NASCIO on Thursday awarded former Delaware CIO James Collins with its Meritorious Service Award, recognizing him for his long state-government service and contributions to the association. “James was an active and highly engaged member since his appointment as state CIO in Delaware,” wrote Connecticut CIO Mark Raymond, who nominated Collins. Collins, who took a consulting role with Microsoft in September, served as NASCIO's 2018-19 president, among other roles with the group. Colin Wood reports.

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