Voter Information Stolen in D.C. Board of Elections Data Breach
- By Steven
- Oct 10, 2023
The nation’s capital—Washington, D.C., hosts over 700k+ individuals along the shared border of Maryland and Virginia; within Columbia, an estimated 86.9% of inhabitants can actively vote. The D.C. Board of Elections (DCBOE) is an autonomous group overseeing elections in the area. They manage the voter registration process and manage ballot access for the public. However, D.C. residents are under threat following a recent data breach. If you believe hackers stole your data, take proactive steps to mitigate future damages.
How Did the Attack Occur?
The DCBOE employs a series of service providers, one of which oversees the board’s public information website, dcboe.org. Residents can register their voter information from this website, change party affiliations, and learn about the voting requirements. Web server provider DataNet Systems, a trusted and confidential website servicer, hosts the page. According to multiple reports, the data breach occurred after a hacker snuck into DataNet and copied the information. We suspect the breach was not vulnerability manipulation but a successful SQL injection, which allowed access to the outer servers. DCBOE indicated that the attack impacted no internal systems.
What Information was Viewed or Stolen?
The full extent of the stolen information is unknown. DCBOE’s statement suggests threat actors may have 600,000 data lines, translating to as many voter records as possible. Voter information is publicly available online from many sources, but some profiles may have had more confidential details. Some of the stolen information may include voters’ names, various ID numbers, dates of birth, contact details, and SSNs. For many voters, this information could have been publicly available before the breach; this public data is another reason those impacted by the leak must take proactive steps.
How Did the District of Columbia Board of Elections Admit to the Breach?
On October 5th, DCBOE became aware of a security incident involving DataNet’s server. Speculating responders immediately shut down the breached website and engaged a maintenance page. A day later, on October 6th, they created and dispersed a public statement including known details. The statement includes their initial reaction to the breach and authorities opening investigations into the event.
What Will Become of the Stolen Information?
Much of the breached data was already available online for public use. For this reason, it is challenging to determine the future of the details. Those who have had more than rudimentary details exposed are at significant risk for loss in the future. The stolen information contains enough credentials to launch targeted DDoS attacks or make ransom demands from the hackers. We suspect that those who have had their data stolen may face financial, identity, and voter fraud in the coming months.
What Should Affected Parties Do in the Aftermath of the Breach?
If you’ve discovered that hackers stole your information during this breach, take immediate action to protect yourself. Review the passwords, accounts, emails, and other connected information to ensure they haven’t been tampered with—and change them if needed. Set up identity and financial monitoring services to instantly alert you to changes within your bank and personal accounts. Lastly, stay up to date on the details as the investigation continues. Like the initial statement, the DCBOE may post updates to their X (formerly Twitter) page. Do these things to protect your data and your future.