HILLSBOROUGH COUNTY, Fla. (WFLA) – Local, state and federal law enforcement are investigating criminal cyber activity at the Hillsborough County Supervisor of Elections Office.
Supervisor of Elections Craig Latimer is trying to reassure voters this cyber breach did not interfere with an election.
“It’s very important to note that the unauthorized user did not have access to our voter registration system or our ballot tabulation system,” Latimer said in a statement. “Our voter registration system has multiple layers of protection, monitoring and redundancy. Our tabulation system does too, and uses a stand-alone, air gapped server that is not connected to anything else. That server has not been compromised in any way.”
News Channel 8 spoke with USF Criminology professor Tom Hyslilp, who specializes in cybercrimes and cybersecurity.
Hyslip shared three theories about this cyber breach could have occurred.
He said the unauthorized user could have been an employee who exceeded their access, the drive was misconfigured and someone stumbled upon it on the internet or “it’s a nation state or criminal gang trying to get access to the voter database.”
Latimer said he notified multiple law enforcement agencies, so now the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office, FDLE and the FBI are all involved in this investigation.
“It’s important to one, figure out what happened,” Hyslip said, “but two, to gain the public’s trust so they understand the elections are safe and secure.”
Latimer said he considers this intrusion an “extremely serious offense.”
“Elections are critical infrastructure,” he said in his statement, “and any attack on our office – even one that does not interfere with the conduct of an election – is an attack on our community and our democracy.”
News Channel 8 checked in Wednesday with three other local supervisors of elections offices.
Pasco, Pinellas and Polk County elections officials said there has been no cyber breach into their networks.
Latimer said he looks forward to sharing more information with the public at the conclusion of the investigation.