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Top Story: Dangerous phishing scams spreading that use your political party and data

The FBI has started issuing security warnings to system admins of state electoral board systems around the U.S. This is due to the security breach of the Illinois Board of Elections in June and the attempted attack against Arizona in August.

The June attack that targeted the Illinois Board reportedly stole the personal data of 200,000 voters by using an SQL injection on the board's website and database. Fortunately, the other attempted SQL attack against Arizona was less successful but it was not disclosed if data was stolen.

The FBI alert states that the attacks were traced to IP addresses belonging to virtual servers situated in Bulgaria, the Netherlands and Russia. The hacking tools of these attackers include Acunetix, SQLMap, and DirBuster, common resources used for website vulnerability scanning and SQL injection attacks against database servers.

The authorities suspect that these attacks from "foreign hackers" may have possible links with the breach of the Democratic National Committee servers last month. This attack against the DNC is suspected to have been launched by Russian groups.

The Illinois and Arizona attacks look to be nothing more than attempts to steal personal information rather than having real political intentions. Personally, identifiable data, like names, phone numbers, addresses, and email addresses are valuable for cybercriminals since this information can be sold on the Dark Web and used for activities like phishing scams.

With these increasing attacks on electoral boards, to prevent such SQL injection attacks, the FBI is urging IT system administrators to:

  • Conduct vulnerability scans
  • Keep software updated
  • Validate user input
  • Implement the principle of least privilege on databases
  • Limit the privileges of the database system on the operating system
  • Use static queries
  • Isolate the web application from the SQL instructions

HOW TO PROTECT YOURSELF:

For regular citizens like you and me, all these reports of information breaches may be daunting. With all our personal data stored on online servers everywhere, we can't be too careful when dealing with phishing scam and identity theft attempts.

If you believe your personal information may have been compromised, here are some simple steps you can take to keep yourself safe:

  • Keep an eye on your credit reports. If there's anything fishy going on, contact your bank or credit card provider and don't be afraid to freeze your accounts.
  • Keep an eye on your email accounts and personal mail, too. Scammers can use the information they've obtained for phishing scams.
  • Change your passwords for all of your online accounts, especially anywhere you've used references to data hackers may have obtained through a breach.

To read more about the FBI's Flash Alert "Targeting Activity Against State Board of Election Systems," click here.

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