The Florida elections vendor that was targeted in Russian cyberattacks last year has denied a recent report based on a leaked National Security Agency document that the company’s computer system was compromised. The hackers tried to break into employee email accounts last August but were unsuccessful, said Ben Martin, the chief operating officer of VR Systems, in an interview with NPR. Martin said the hackers appeared to be trying to steal employee credentials in order to launch a spear-phishing campaign aimed at the company’s customers. VR Systems, based in Tallahassee, Fla., provides voter registration software and hardware to elections offices in eight states. “Some emails came into our email account that we did not open. Even though NSA says it’s likely that we opened them, we did not,” Martin says. “We know for a fact they were never opened. They did not get into our domain.”
Instead, Martin said, the company isolated the suspicious emails and alerted law enforcement authorities, who it was already working with because of two attempts to break into state voter registration databases earlier last summer.
The NSA document said that at least one of the company’s email accounts was “likely” compromised based on information uncovered later in the spear-phishing campaign. That attack took place days before the November election and involved fake emails sent to as many as 122 local election officials in an apparent effort to trick them into opening attachments containing malicious software.