Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Breach of Web site for Ohio Secretary of State Jennifer Brunner called an isolated event

Granted, this isn't the most relevant story to the issue of privacy, but it certainly is to the issue of democracy.

The assault on the Secretary of State's website in Ohio is nothing surprising, as it was both detailed and predicted by the former GOP operative - Allen Raymond (now a convicted felon for his work in New Hampshire in 04') - in his book entitled "How to Rig an Election: Confessions of a Republican Operative".

According to Raymond, these kinds of October surprises are largely aimed to harass and intimidate. The bigger concern is that the attacks could threaten sensitive records and functions of the site. In a press release Monday, Secretary of State Jennifer Brunner announced that "the state website has been set in a static mode with limited functionality as a precaution." The press release also cites "denial of service" attacks against both phone and email, and which include threats of harm and or death, as well as a suspicious package.

These attacks follow a fight by the GOP to purge voter rolls in the state. SOS Brunner's recent victory in court to prevent unfair purging of the voter rolls due to database mismatches was a blow to the state GOP party. There is a tug of war between the Democratic Secretary of State verses the Ohio State GOP Party over control of Ohio's elections.

With that, here's an article in Cleveland's Plains Dealer on the issue:

Monday's forced shutdown of the Ohio secretary of state's Web site appears to have been the most serious breach of a state government site in recent memory, according to state officials.


The office will not say what type of information the hackers might have gained access to or how long the problem may have existed before it was discovered. The office handles elections data, voter information and business filings.


Brunner's office said the aggression toward the secretary has been more serious than previously revealed and that the State Highway Patrol is now investigating a number of incidents -- including death threats against Brunner. The computer breach followed the death threats and e-mails and phone calls threatening physical harm to the secretary's staffers, according to spokesman Jeff Ortega.

The Highway Patrol is also investigating a suspicious envelope addressed to Brunner and sent to the former location of the secretary's office in Columbus. The envelope was covered in threatening messages with political overtones and contained an unidentified powder, Ortega said.

Click here to read more.

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