Palm Beach Elections Office Hit with Ransomware Pre-2016 Election

Palm Beach County’s elections supervisor does not believe the attack is linked to Russian hacking attempts targeting Florida.

A ransomware attack struck Florida’s Palm Beach County Elections Office weeks ahead of the 2016 US presidential election, the Palm Beach Post reported this week.

The incident took place more than three years ago, when Susan Bucher was elections supervisor, but is now coming to light after current elections supervisor Wendy Sartory Link was informed of it. Link was speaking with temporary IT director Ed Sacerio when he mentioned a security incident took place in 2016. As Sacerio described the attack, it was noticed when a colleague saw files disappearing and Word files and Excel spreadsheets being encrypted.

Sacerio does not believe the virus affected any voter data or election results. The office’s former IT director “kept his team at a distance” when handling the incident, he says.

After she learned of the 2016 attack, Link called the state, the FBI, and Department of Homeland Security, none of which had known about it. The Palm Beach elections office has now received guidance from Florida’s Cyber Navigator program, as well as attention from DHS. Link said she does not think the ransomware attack related to reports of Russian attackers targeting Florida counties.

Read more details in the full report here.

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