Pre-election nerves

A cyberattack in Louisana, targeting small government offices, in the weeks leading up to the election:

The situation in Louisiana follows a similar case in Washington state, according to a cybersecurity consultant familiar with the matter, where hackers infected some government offices with a type of malware known for deploying ransomware, which locks up systems and demands payment to regain access.

A troubling pattern, though one that likely has little do with the election. The disgracefully outdated infrastructure found in government IT across the US (and indeed most of the world) has been to blame for largely untargeted attacks taking down public sector networks. Last year, I reported on a crippling attack on Baltimore.

But that’s not to say this story, and others like it, shouldn’t add to our concerns about the integrity of this upcoming election. The discussion around security usually focuses on the voting machines themselves. But experts will tell you the concern lies with access to voter databases. A ransomware attack could mean heavy disruption. It wouldn’t change votes, it would just slow down an already overburdened system. Targeted or not, the end result is the same.