Oregon CIO: cyber-attack may be motivated by politics


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Alex Pettit, Oregon’s new chief information officer, said Wednesday the recent cyber-attack on the Oregon secretary of state’s website might have been motivated by politics instead of money.

Pettit, speaking on Oregon Public Broadcasting’s show Think Out Loud, called the breach, which forced officials to shut down applications on the site for nearly three weeks, a sophisticated attack by a sophisticated opponent.

“We’ve moved from people looking to steal identities or to steal credit card information for financial gain or whatever to really organizations that are engaging in asymmetrical warfare. Folks that don’t like us,” Pettit said.

In the interview, Pettit said now that the state has figured out how the website was hacked, the state is moving to close similar vulnerabilities in other state websites.

On Feb. 4, Secretary of State Information System Administrators detected an unauthorized intrusion and shut down online applications as a precaution. Those applications included the state’s Central Business Registry and ORESTAR, the state’s online campaign finance reporting system, which contains the personal information the state’s political candidates, including bank account information.

The applications were back up and running as of Monday, state officials announced.

“I appreciate the enormous patience that Oregonians have demonstrated during the website outage,” Oregon Secretary of State Kate Brown said earlier this week. “I’d also like to thank everyone in this office who worked incredibly long hours to restore these important services as quickly and securely as possible.”

Pettit is still relatively new to Oregon, having started his job as CIO last month after serving as CIO of Oklahoma for more than four years.

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Alex Pettit, cybersecurity, Kate Brown, Oregon, States, Tech News