State cybersecurity investigators are trying to determine if personal information about millions of Arizona voters was improperly accessed or tampered with after the FBI found evidence of a potential hack.
Arizona’s voter registration system remained offline Wednesday as a team combed the troves of data for any issues, said Matthew Roberts, a spokesman for the Arizona Secretary of State’s Office.
In a statement, Secretary of State Michele Reagan called the potential breach an “extremely serious issue.” The FBI described the threat as “credible” and an “8 out of 10” on the severity scale, according to Roberts.
The threat to the state’s voter registration system may be linked to malware found on a county election official’s computer, Roberts said, although he stressed that security experts had not definitively established the link.
The voter registration database contains the name, home address, date of birth and party affiliation of the more than 3 million registered voters in the state of Arizona. It includes the last four digits of each voter’s Social Security number, his or her driver’s license number and a photograph of his or her signature. The database also contains phone numbers and email addresses of voters who choose to share them, Roberts said.
Identity theft expert Mark Pribish of Merchants Information Solutions, Inc. says that’s exactly the kind of information hackers want.
“They take minimal information and take it to the hacker forums to match up a complete profile,” he said.
Pribish said a voter’s driver’s license number, date of birth, and address could be combined with public information on social media that could lead to tax refund fraud. Those three pieces of information would also allow an identity thief to create a convincing fake ID card to open up fraudulent bank accounts, he said.
However, the Secretary of State’s Office downplayed the risk of a data breach.
“I’d like to assure everyone that we don’t believe anyone’s information is at risk but that’s why we, and the [Arizona Department of Administration] itself, are undertaking such an exhaustive review and examination of the registration database,” Roberts said. He added that the database is not connected the system that tabulates votes.
The registration database was taken offline June 28 for examination, Reagan said in a statement. Cyberteams hope to have it back up by July 8 – one week later than originally projected.
Arizona residents can still make online voter registration requests on ServiceArizona.com. Those requests are being stored until the state-run database is back up and running.Copyright 2016 KPHO/KTVK (KPHO Broadcasting Corporation). All rights reserved.