Cyberattack Compels Georgia County to Disconnect from State Voter Registration System

Cyberattack Compels Georgia County to Disconnect from State Voter Registration System

Three people familiar with the situation told CNN that this month there was a cyberattack in Georgia’s Coffee County that caused the county to cut its link to the state’s voter registration system as a safety step.

According to the sources, investigators think it was a ransomware attack, which is when hackers lock up computers and demand a ransom.

The federal Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) told the county about the hack on April 15. Sources say that federal and county officials are now trying to figure out who did it.

A representative for Georgia’s secretary of state’s office confirmed the cyberattack and the steps taken by the county.

The GARViS voter registration system is a fairly new technology that state officials have hailed as a way to make sure that millions of Georgians are correctly registered to vote. There were no signs that the hackers got into GARViS, and as a safety measure, Coffee County cut its link to GARViS, according to the sources.

A Georgia official familiar with the situation told CNN that Coffee County was cut off from GARViS for several days. However, county officials are now back online with the voter registration system using backup computers and cell networks that are separate from the county network that was hacked.

Coffee County, which has about 43,000 people and is in the southeast of Georgia, was a major focus of attempts by Trump supporters to overturn the 2020 election. In January 2021, a group of people working for Trump broke into Coffee County’s election office to get information that would back up their false claims that the election was stolen.

A CISA representative sent questions to Coffee County on Friday night. A request for word from the county did not get a response right away.

CyberScoop was the first to report on the event.

In the past few years, ransomware attacks have caused a lot of trouble for state and city governments across the US. Georgia is no different. Atlanta is in Fulton County, which was hit by a crippling ransomware attack in January. The attack shut down county computers for weeks, causing phone lines to go down and water bill payments to be held up. The hack didn’t mess up the county’s voting process.

But federal officials have been worried for a long time that ransomware attacks on state and local governments could make it impossible to vote. The military’s hacking unit, US Cyber Command, has previously carried out cyber operations against ransomware hackers who could damage voting infrastructure.

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