ORLANDO (CBSMiami/AP) — The chief operating officer of a Florida-based company which provides voter registration software is refuting parts of a leaked U.S. National Security Agency report which suggested their systems were hacked to send phishing messages to local elections officials nationwide.
VR Systems’ Ben Martin told Florida election supervisors during a presentation Monday that his company’s systems were never breached.
“We have no indication that they got anywhere close to our systems,” Martin said. “They never got into our systems.”
Martin gave a rundown of events from last year leading up to the leak earlier this month of the NSA report.
The report said information from VR Systems was used to send phishing emails to 122 local election officials just before the election last November, in an attempt to break into their systems. So far, there is no indication that voting or ballot counting in any states were affected.
“When something like this happens, it hurts us and hurts us as an elections community,” VR Systems CEO Mindy Perkins told supervisors at the Florida State Association of Supervisors of Elections conference outside Orlando on Monday. Many of the supervisors use VR Systems software.
In March 2016, law enforcement officials notified elections officials and vendors about a series of suspicious IP addresses and advised them to make sure no communications was sent from them.
“It doesn’t mean that anybody got in our system, it just meant that those IP addresses were looking,” Martin said. “They were looking for open doors. They were looking for back doors and ways to go in.”
Five months later in August 2016, VR Systems received a series of phishing emails.
“What they wanted was for my staff or us to open those emails, which they believed would give them access to our email addresses, and then they could send emails looking like they came from us,” Martin said.