Oregon’s paper-ballot voting system in the state has never been more accurate or secure, though the number of phishing attempts targeting election officials has increased, the state’s elections director said. Oregon Elections Director Steve Trout said he himself has been hit by a dozen phishing attempts since July. In all of 2017, he had only one or two. Phishing is an attempt to trick people into sharing sensitive information such as passwords and usernames, often by inducing them to click on a bogus link or by pretending to be an entity. The FBI and U.S. Department of Homeland Security officials advised Trout and others attending a security summit this week that there has been a huge increase in phishing attempts in the nation, targeting elections officials and other critical infrastructure such as energy and banking sectors, Trout told journalists Tuesday.
In the run-up to the 2018 election, federal, state and local officials are trying to be more vigilant about attempts to affect the vote, mindful of the 2016 election in which Democrat presidential candidate Hillary Clinton’s campaign and Democratic National Committee emails were hacked and leaked.
The Department of Homeland Security said Wednesday it has been sharing classified and unclassified information with state officials and other critical infrastructure entities about notable attempts at phishing.
U.S. intelligence agencies have concluded that Russian sought to undermine the 2016 election in favor of then Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump and against Clinton. DHS is not blaming anyone so far for the ongoing phishing attempts. “DHS has not attributed these phishing attempts to a nation state or any other actor,” the department said in a statement. “Phishing is an extremely common practice on the Internet.”