Threat Management, Malware, Threat Management

Pence said cyberattack shut down Kansas county election system, except it didn’t

In the midst of high profile state-sponsored cyberattacks, fake news, and accusations of Russian meddling in U.S. elections, Vice President Mike Pence Tuesday told the audience at a Manhattan cybersecurity conference that a malware attack forced a Kansas County to shut down its election systems.

"Less than two weeks ago, Finney County, Kansas, reached out to DHS for help after a malware attack forced them to shut down not just their election network, but the entire county's network," Pence said. "Federal officials worked hand-in-hand with the county to identify and ultimately eliminate this dangerous intrusion."

Despite the claims, county officials are saying the attacks played out differently than how Pence described them.

While Finn County was forced to shut down its systems twice in July after discovering it had been hit with TrickBot and Emotet malware, respectively, neither incident affected the county's election system county officials told CNN.

Finney County spokeswoman Sara McClure told the news agency its election system is not part of the network and wasn't impacted in any way adding that advanced voting started on schedule and that voting remains unaffected.

Kansas Secretary of State Spokeswoman Danedri Herbert also said the election systems weren't involved but that the DHS did assist in the aftermath of two cyberattacks.

"A week later DHS came back and gave the all-clear, and everything has been normal ever since," Herbert said. "The voter registration system was never involved; it's maintained by the state."

CNN attempted to clarify the discrepancy and was redirected to The DHS which responded with a statement saying it had offered the county support following a cyberattack and that no citizen data was impacted.

An administration official told the news agency there was no difference in what Pence and McClure had said.

"What the vice president and Finney County said are consistent,” the official said. “The vice president was referring to election systems in the broader sense to include the people, processes and things that help to administer elections."

County officials added that Finney County wasn't the intended target of the attacks but rather collateral damage.  




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