State concerned, prepared for possible hacker interference in election

BOSTON — Elections officials across the Commonwealth are working overtime to process mail-in ballots but also to prevent online threats.

Earlier this month, a ransomware attack in Georgia affected the election infrastructure, including the voter signature database and voter precinct map, according to CNN.

“It is certainly concerning as an election official but I think locally we have a plan as well as the state has a plan, we are constantly on guard,” said Niko Vangjeli, Worcester’s City Clerk.

Vangjeli said the office is constantly monitoring voter registration rolls, and working with the IT department to review data and reports so they have ample safeguards in place in the event of an online attack.

He says there have been no incidents to this point and that the paper ballot system used in Massachusetts helps provide a backup resource if needed and if an election office is audited.

“Voters have to recognize when it comes to cyber security of any government, state, local or federal, it’s the wild west out there,” said Alan Brill, Senior Managing Director of Cyber Risk for Kroll Inc., a global risk solutions firm.

Brill managed the defense of Obama for America during the 2008 election cycle and has taught for the NATO Center of Excellence for Defense Against Terrorism.

“There is no such thing as 100% cybersecurity, it’s a matter of managing risk and being able to respond when something happens,” Brill said.

Secretary of the Commonwealth William Galvin said his office is in communication with local elections officials and federal agencies to ensure security for elections.

“We are concerned of course and we are prepared,” Galvin stated.

There have been no cyber attacks during this election cycle according to Galvin’s office.

He added that there were no hacking incidents during the 2016 election in Massachusetts.

“You can never be too careful and I’m not going to boast and say we can’t be the subject of attack, we could be,” Galvin added.