Russians sent phishing e-mail to Clay County elections office

Two emails were immediately deleted that could have been a threat.

GREEN COVE SPRINGS, Fla. - We now know the Clay County elections office was at least one of the state's offices targeted by Russian hackers.

It was part of an attempt to hack a Florida company, VR Systems, based in Tallahassee, which is involved in voter registration for much of the state.

The Clay County Supervisor of Elections, Chris Chambless, said his office was contacted by VR Systems back in November in regard to a phishing attempt.

Chambless said after being alerted by VR Systems, he looked and found no suspect emails. It wasn't until he looked at the quarantine server that he found not one but two emails which were deleted that posed a risk.

The office receives roughly 3,500 phishing or spam emails each day.

"In no way could that have caused any type of interference or insecurity or issue with a voting system," said Chambless.

Chambless said that's because their voting system is not connected to the internet. There are physical seals, two-person controls, that lock the security of votes and keep it secret.

"It's just another lesson of the importance of security," he said.

Former Duval County Supervisor of Elections Jerry Holland said he made a call to VR Systems after he learned of the attempted hack.

"Especially after hearing so much about the Russian involvement, to see it come local was really kind of surprising," said Holland.

Holland believes the Russians attempted to steal staff identities at VR. They weren't able to do that, so they tried to fake the company identity with a Google account.

"We've never seen one during my ten years as Supervisor of Elections with an attempt to get into the voting system," said Holland.

Holland said if their email protections can protect against the international intruders, that's always a good sign.

"That's a very good start, you know if you can keep the Russians and the Chinese out, you're probably doing a good job," said Holland.

The current Duval County Supervisor of Elections said Duval County did not receive any phishing emails and said Jacksonville has good software to weed out potentially dangerous emails.

© 2017 WTLV-TV


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