MARTINEZ — An unknown hacker recently tried to access Contra Costa County’s election internet system, according to an email sent by the county’s elections chief.
The unsuccessful hacking attempt “fits a pattern of other attempts/attacks that trace back to foreign interests,” according to an email sent to county staff by Clerk-Recorder and Registrar of Voters Joe Canciamilla Friday morning. He said the elections office notified the California Secretary of State’s office as well as the Department of Homeland Security about the “attempted intrusion.”
“Our security protocols captured and isolated the threat almost immediately,” Canciamilla wrote in the email. It’s unclear when the attack took place.
Elections spokesman Paul Burgarino said the investigation into the incident is still in its early stages, but preliminary information indicated the attempt was unsuccessful.
“It never got into our system. We’re still looking into the systems behind what happened,” Burgarino said. “We don’t know origin yet, that’s what we’re looking into.”
Assistant Registrar of Voters Scott Konopasek said the incident was being reviewed in “an ongoing state and federal investigation.”
“It is being taken very seriously, and we will make no further comment,” Konopasek said.
The Secretary of State’s office did not respond to a request for comment after business hours on Friday.
California officials have worked to help local elections offices defend themselves against cyberattacks since the 2016 election, which U.S. intelligence agencies believe Russian-linked agents attempted to influence. That has included investments to upgrade aging voting systems and a new state office dedicated to election cybersecurity.
State law forbids voting machines from being connected to the internet. But other elections offices around the country have been the target of hacking attempts aimed at accessing voter registration data, according to security officials.
The news of the attempted intrusion in Contra Costa County came the same day as special counsel Robert Mueller submitted his report about Russian interference in the 2016 election to the Department of Justice. The conclusions of the report are not yet public.
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