Hook, Line and Username? OK Election Officials Report Phishing Scam

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[Image via betanews]

It’s an unfortunate fact of our increasingly-connected lives that bad actors have more opportunities than ever to reach out and attempt to scam us. Online scams aren’t as obvious as an oddly-worded email from a current former member of the Nigerian royal family anymore; they’ve gotten more sophisticated and dangerous. One such tactic is called “phishing,” which involves sending a communication disguised as a trusted entity (like a bank or credit card company) in order to trick the recipient into sharing personal information that could then be used to commit identity fraud.

Just as with real fishing, these attempts need a “hook” – and election officials in Oklahoma are warning voters there that, as the general election season heats up, a new phishing expedition is being carried out in the guise of the State Electoral Board. TV Station KJRH has more:

Oklahoma voters are being warned of a phishing scam regarding personal information that could lead users to a malicious website.

According to the Oklahoma State Election Board [OSEB] officials, voters are cautioned to look out for emails claiming the recipient’s voter information needs to be changed or verified. The emails claim to be from state or county election boards, reports the OSEB.

The link provided in the emails will send users to a malicious website. To avoid this issue, OSEB suggests not opening any links from any email sent unsolicited from someone claiming to be an election official.

They went on to say that all communications regarding changes in voter information or the need to verify registration information would be sent by mail not through email.

 

The challenge for election officials now is that many of them are increasingly hoping to encourage voters to use online portals to register to vote, check and update their own voter records, find out where to cast their ballots and even check on the status of a voted ballot. In that environment, offices will need to make sure that their own sites are sufficiently well-designed and are using up-to-date security protections in order to ensure not only that voters’ data is accurate but that it is protected from unauthorized release. In other words, while we justifiably spend lots of time and effort worrying about – and hardening against – attacks on the voting system, we also must realize that the information voters provide as part of the process is incredibly valuable beyond elections.

In short, election officials must now realize that – in addition to everything else on their plate – they have something akin to a fiduciary duty to protect voters’ information. For a long time, I – along with many more people smarter than me – have talked about making elections fit with the way Americans live today. That quite rightly has meant developing and promoting online resources to assist voters; the key is to find ways to treat the personal information received from voters as part of the process as something just as valuable as the votes themselves.

Stay tuned … and click carefully.

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