Hackers stole $2.3 million from the Wisconsin Republican party as part of a cyberattack that included false invoices and a phishing scheme, just as President Donald Trump and many local GOP candidates are heading into the home stretch of election week.
“Cybercriminals, using a sophisticated phishing attack, stole funds intended for the re-election of President Trump, altered invoices and committed wire fraud,” Wisconsin GOP Chairman Andrew Hitt said in a statement to The Hill on Thursday.
“These criminals exhibited a level of familiarity with state party operations at the end of the campaign to commit this crime,” Hitt said. “While a large sum of money was stolen, our operation is running at full capacity with all the resources deployed to ensure President Donald J. Trump carries Wisconsin on November 3rd.”
No data or other funds or property were taken in the attack, which was discovered on October 22.
Election security concerns heightened
Concerns about election security have been heightened in recent days since FBI director Christopher Wray and Director of National Intelligence John Ratcliffe reported that Russian and Iranian operatives managed to gain access to U.S. voter registration data.
Voters in at least three states have received threatening emails from Iranian actors, and U.S. leaders like Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) have expressed concern that more frequent attacks could occur on or around Election Day.
“WARNING. The bulk of disinformation attacks prepared by our adversaries were designed for the days before & just after Election Day,” Rubio tweeted. “They may come faster than they can be spotted & called out, so word to the wise, the more outlandish the claim, the likelier it’s foreign influence.”
Hackers also released some records of Hall County, Georgia voters in an effort to get election officials there to pay a ransom.
It all started in 2016
Election security has been an issue since 2016, when Russia engaged in a disinformation campaign that included social media bots and cybertargeting election locations.
Security officials have tried to reassure the public that they are aware of the possible risks and that people’s votes are secure.
“We’re now in the final stretch of the election and tens of millions of voters have already cast their votes free from foreign interference,” Director of the Department of Homeland Security’s Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency Christopher Krebs said in a statement last week, according to The Hill.
“We remain confident that no foreign cyber actor can change your vote, and we still believe that it would be incredibly difficult for them to change the outcome of an election at the national level.”