Russian-owned company attempted Ohio election hack, official says

Ohio's secretary of state said the “relatively unsophisticated” hacking attempt on Election Day originated in Panama but was traced to a Russian-owned company.
Image: Frank Larose speaks at the Ohio Republican Party event in Columbus on Nov. 6, 2018.
Frank Larose speaks at the Ohio Republican Party event in Columbus on Nov. 6, 2018.Tony Dejak / AP file

Breaking News Emails

Get breaking news alerts and special reports. The news and stories that matter, delivered weekday mornings.
SUBSCRIBE
By Associated Press

COLUMBUS, Ohio — Ohio detected and thwarted an election-related cyber attack earlier this month, the state’s elections chief said.

Republican Secretary of State Frank LaRose said the “relatively unsophisticated” hacking attempt on Nov. 5, which was Election Day, originated in Panama but was traced to a Russian-owned company.

LaRose told The Columbus Dispatch Tuesday that the would-be attackers were looking around for vulnerabilities in his office’s website.

“They are poking around for soft spots,” LaRose said.

The ultimate goal of such attacks is disrupting and undermining the credibility of elections, but LaRose said Ohio’s election results are safe because neither the election machines nor the ballot counters the state uses are connected to the internet.

LaRose said the attempted SQL injection attack sought to insert malicious code into his office’s website. It was detected by the state’s Albert network security system, a sort of digital burglar alarm.

“The good guys won that day and the bad guys lost,” he said.