The Federal Bureau of Investigation is investigating the hacking of electronic voting systems in the state of Georgia, according to a report in the Washington Times.
The data breach is said to have taken place “recently” and involved as many as 7.5 million voter records, according to a separate report by the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
The FBI has yet to comment on the investigation, but the Georgia state office claims the personal records of its 6.6 million voters were never breached.
The data breach is reported to have taken place at Kennesaw State University, which released a statement to Patch.com, confirming they are cooperating in an investigation.
“Kennesaw State officials are working with federal law enforcement officials to determine whether and to what extent a data breach may have occurred involving records maintained by the Center for Election Systems,” KSU said.
“Because this involves a pending criminal investigation Kennesaw State will have no further comment on this matter and any inquiries should be addressed to the US Attorney’s Office.”
A local, Tony Uceda Velez, CEO of Atlanta-based data security company VerSprite, says he expects the federal investigation to widen the scope of the investigation, particularly in light of allegations that Russian spies infiltrated the US presidential elections.
“They’re going to comb through network logs, going to look at server logs, they’re going to look at application logs and they’re basically going to try to piecemeal a time of when the attack happened and what types of activities happened on the network and on those different sources,” Uceda Velez says.
The row over whether or not the Russians infiltrated the US elections has been rumbling on for months, and at one point saw US intelligence agencies present a report to newly elected President Donald Trump.
Trump had initially been sceptical of the claims of Russian hacking, but eventually accepted that foreign countries were always trying to breach US government institutions and organisations.
There is no evidence so far of any Russian involvement in the Georgia state story, but hacking in general seems to have taken a turn for the worse, with several high-profile cases emerging in the past few days.
Yahoo, the victim of what was probably the biggest hack in history, with 1 billion user account details stolen, has made further revelations about what’s going on at the internet pioneer.
The company says that on top of all the other data breaches, hackers have accessed approximately 32 million user accounts using forged cookies over the past two years.
Meanwhile, one of the most famous music festivals in the US – Coachella – is reported to have been hacked and almost a million of its user accounts stolen. According to a report on Motherboard, 950,000 Coachella user accounts are now available on what’s called the “dark web” – probably an updated term meaning the same thing as the old “black market”.
There have been other reports of data breaches in the past week or so, as there is most weeks, and the FBI and other authorities are attempting to keep up with the onslaught.
But as Michael McCaul, the Chairman of the House Committee on Homeland Security in the US, accepted in a speech at a cyber security conference, the hack attacks are coming in too fast.
“We are in the fight of our digital lives and we are not winning,” said McCaul at the RSA Conference, held in San Francisco recently.
McCaul admits that there are too many cyber attacks and they are often too big for governments and law enforcement agencies to adequately deal with them.
And to make things worse, it seems that hackers are also targeting any companies which provide assistance to the authorities.
According to another report in Motherboard, the company which helped the FBI to breach an iPhone as part of an investigation has been hacked and its software tools stolen.
Apple, the maker of iPhone, had famously refused to provide a “backdoor” to allow the FBI or anyone else to easily access the data on its smartphones, and after much argument, the FBI found a company which could hack its way into them.
That company, called Cellebrite, is now reported to have been hacked and the hacker apparently talked to Motherboard about it.
“To be honest, had it not been for the recent stance taken by Western governments no one would have known but us,” the hacker told Motherboard, allegedly.