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By Bruce Sussman
Fri | Oct 23, 2020 | 10:35 AM PDT

Ransomware hit Hall County, Georgia, government systems earlier this month, and now it is coming out that a particular voter database system remains offline because of the cyberattack.

Let's look at what we know about this attack. 

Election security: ransomware impacts voter database

In this case, it's the database that will call up a voter's known signature to match it to the signature on their absentee ballot, so the ballot can be confirmed and counted.

Hall County Registration Coordinator Kay Wimpye told the Gainesville Times there is a workaround. It involves going back to legacy technology: paper.

"Wimpye said employees can still verify voter signatures by manually pulling hard copies of voter registration cards, which is more time-consuming. 

'As long as the ballot is here, it's time-stamped, it's secured in the office, the ballot will be accepted. It's just taking us a little longer to verify those signatures.'"

And this is happening in a year when absentee ballots have surged exponentially. In the November 2016 election, 4,138 people voted absentee. This year, more than 27,000 voters requested to vote absentee and mail in their ballot.

Was any voter information stolen in the ransomware attack?

At this point, we know that the ransomware attack on Hall County, Georgia, will slow the absentee ballot verifying process. 

But in a day and age when many ransomware operators exfiltrate (steal) data from their targets, we have to wonder about that database of voter signatures. Was it stolen?

The county's updates on the ransomware attack, so far, seem to indicate it was not:

"At this time, there is no evidence to show that citizen or employee data has been compromised. However, citizens and employees are encouraged to take precautionary measures to monitor and protect their personal information."

And in a recent update, the county made it very clear, you can still vote in Hall County, Georgia, however you would like to.

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