State elections officials eliminated an unused, password-protected file sharing service to further protect the state’s election system from hackers. The move came after a reporter with the nonprofit journalism organization ProPublica inquired about whether the service was susceptible to hacking, according to Wisconsin Elections Commission spokesman Reid Magney. The organization’s scrutiny of the security of Wisconsin’s election system comes days before Tuesday’s midterm elections and amid concerns that the Russian-based interference in the 2016 general election could return this year. In the 2016 election, Russians attempted to hack elections systems in Wisconsin and 20 other states ahead of the presidential election.
Magney said that years ago, the commission used the file sharing service to transfer files to the commercial web server that hosts the commission’s informational website. The service was password protected.
“At some point, the web host advised me we should stop using (the service) for security reasons. I thought I might need to use it in the future and asked them to keep it available,” Magney said. “We did not use it again, and when ProPublica discovered it was still possible to use the service on our site, I asked our web host to shut it off completely.”
Magney compared the service to “a locked door that nobody has used for several years.”