Researchers have confirmed that a Russian hacker successfully broke into the U.S. Election Assistance Commission (EAC) systems.

Even worse? He was caught trying to sell stolen access credentials, including that of administrators, on the underground market. This news comes from researchers at Recorded Future, who claim a hacker named “Rasputin” was discussing the sale of more than 100 EAC credentials to a Middle Eastern government broker.

The EAC was established in 2002 by the Help America Vote Act and is responsible for overseeing the testing and certification of electronic voting systems.

Rasputin claims to have accessed the systems through an SQLi vulnerability, which has since been located, reported and fixed. Suspicion of Russian interference in the Presidential election has been evident for months, but there is no indication that the EAC breach was used in this way, or that Rasputin even has direct ties to the Russian government.

Andrei Barysevich, Director of Advanced Collection at Recorded Future, claims, “We don’t think Rasputin actually works for any government or is super sophisticated. These administrative accounts could potentially be used to access sensitive information as well as surreptitiously modify or plant malware on the EAC site, effectively staging a watering hole attack utilizing an official government resource.”

This hack is a rather humiliating to such an official body. SQLi flaws are very common and are relatively easy to fix, so how did this fall through the cracks? And who’s not to say this is just one of the many hacks that the EAC has recently experienced, considering they didn’t even discover this breach on their own.

This incident should act as an unsettling wake-up call to the government organizations who still think our voting systems are safe from all harm. Instead of thinking, “So glad that wasn’t us”, let’s shift to thinking “Wow that could have been us. Would we have been prepared to deal with this? Are we as prepared as possible for an intruder to hack into our systems?” These are the kinds of questions these organizations should be asking themselves and preparing for future elections to come.

Having a proactive outlook on cyber security is a proven asset in identifying threats before any significant and lasting damage is done. It’s no surprise that this is exactly what underwriters want to see to- evidence of compliance with security best practices: manage vulnerabilities and maintain system integrity through change control.


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