Listen Live

(INDIANAPOLIS) – Attempts to hack the 2020 election aren’t hypothetical. The Indiana secretary of state’s office says they’ve already started.

Secretary of State Connie Lawson’s chief of staff Brandon Clifton says there have already been attempted cyberattacks on several Indiana counties, traceable to what he calls the Big Four of hacking: Russia, China, North Korea and Iran.

Lawson’s cybersecurity director Patrick Glover says many of those attempts have been ransomware attacks, attempting to seize control of data and encrypt it. But he and Clifton note the same tools are used for hacking.

Clifton says the office remains confident in the security of the 2020 election, but is still adding further layers of protection. 22 counties so far are connected to a firewall which not only knocks down incoming threats, but alerts all the counties in the network when there’s a hacking attempt on one of them. 17 more are scheduled to join the alert network in the coming weeks. The state is working to connect all 92 counties.

Indiana’s voting machines aren’t connected to the Internet, though Clifton says the office has helped counties pay for tighter security at the warehouses where the machines are kept when it’s not Election Day. He says the potential exposure to hackers lies in the state’s voter rolls, since local registration rolls are linked to the state’s database. The state conducts regular malware scans, and requires two-factor authentication along with frequently changed passwords to access the system.

Lawson’s office is also coordinating training of state and county election workers on threat awareness. Clifton warns a hack of Arizona’s voter rolls began with a phishing email that opened a back door to the system.