February 27, 2020
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Voter database unaffected after computers in Maine election office hit by cyber attack

Robert F. Bukaty | AP
Robert F. Bukaty | AP
Maine Secretary of State Matthew Dunlap looks over the shoulder of Heidi Peckham as she goes through papers during the ballot-tabulation process for Maine's 2nd Congressional District's election in this Nov. 13, 2018, file photo in Augusta.

A virus hit several state computers and servers, including in the state’s election office, on Wednesday afternoon, the Maine secretary of state’s office said.

The virus was detected about 3 p.m. and affected Maine Bureau of Corporations, Elections and Commissions staff computers, two servers at the Maine Bureau of Motor Vehicles and a server at the Maine State Archive, according to Kristen Schulze Muszynski, a spokeswoman for the Maine secretary of state’s office. The Bureau of Motor Vehicles’ servers are only used for internal testing purposes, while the state archive server is used for scanning documents.

The Office of Information Technology and the secretary of state’s office are working to restore computer services, Muszynski said Thursday morning. They were expected to be restored later on Thursday.

No public data was accessed and the state’s voter database was not affected, she said.

The cyber attack consisted of 1,600 emails, but only 18 emails reached employee inboxes, Muszynski said, adding that the virus appeared to have entered through a spam email that included a malicious link.

“All State employees complete annual training in cybersecurity measures, since much of our work involves responding to emails from the public,” Secretary of State Matthew Dunlap said. “It presents a difficult challenge when viruses such as these are specially designed to look like legitimate correspondence. We are always continuing to improve our abilities to spot these harmful emails and prevent them from doing damage.”

The Bureau of Motor Vehicles is closed today for staff training, and Muszynski said the closure was unrelated to the attack.

 


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