stickers

113,000 Alaskan voter IDs exposed in data breach

State says no financial information was included

The Alaska Division of Elections announced Thursday 113,000 potential voters’ personal information such as birth dates and license numbers were exposed in a recent data breach against the state of Alaska’s voter registration system.

There was no economic information included in the data stolen, said Assistant Attorney General Cori Mills in a news conference Thursday, but it does include birth dates; driver’s license or state identification numbers; the last four digits of social security numbers; names; party affiliation and addresses.

The state is working with state and federal law enforcement, including the FBI, said Lt. Gov. Kevin Meyer, and Division of Elections worked with the vendor to contain the exposure.

“The flaw has been corrected, the purpose of the unlawful access was more to spread propaganda and hurt voter confidence,” Meyer said.

Meyer said he first became aware of the breach on Oct. 27, and began working with the vendor, PCC, law enforcement and a computer forensics firm to stop the exposure. Alaskans whose personal information was compromised will be receiving a letter in the coming days, Meyer said, informing them of recommended action and providing information on free data security services.

The breach was conducted by outside actors, said Mark Breuning, chief information security officer for the state, and voter information was viewed and copied. However, due to the ongoing investigation Breuning said he was unable to comment on where the attack was coming from or who the perpetrators were.

The data breach did not affect the results of the 2020 general election, Meyer said, and DOE and the state had complete confidence in the results of the election. The state’s ballot-counting system is completely separate from the voter registration system, and the attackers would not be able to access the election results, said Division of Elections director Gail Fenumiai

[Election results are certified, but a recount is expected in close race]

“(The attackers) did not and were not able to change any votes, anything they did with this exposure was to cause mistrust in the voting process,” Meyer said.

Asked about what kind of propaganda was believed to have been spread, Meyer said that was mostly speculation on the state’s part based on a pattern of widespread misinformation during elections. Breuning, citing the ongoing investigation, said he was unable to comment but agreed with Meyer’s assessment.

In October Alaskans were among voters targeted by messages threatening unspecified actions if they did not vote for Trump, the New York Times reported. Federal authorities found those emails were intentionally deceptive and meant to undermine confidence in elections, the Times reported.

Many details about the data exposure remain unclear, the Lt. Governor’s office said in a release, such as the exact identity of the outside actors or the precise information that was copied. The state is still investigating and following published mitigation policies, the release said.

According to the release, voters whose information may have been exposed have been or soon will be notified by mail as required by law. The letter will contain information about the event as well as instructions on how to apply for and receive one year of credit and identity monitoring provided at no cost through Equifax, the release said.

In January Equifax settled with the Federal Trade Commission for its own 2017 data breach.

DOE also established a toll-free number that voters can call to check their status or ask questions: 1-833-269-0003.

• Contact reporter Peter Segall at psegall@juneauempire.com. Follow him on Twitter at @SegallJnuEmpire.

More in News

The Aurora Borealis glows over the Mendenhall Glacier in 2014. (Michael Penn / Juneau Empire File)
Aurora forecast

Forecasts from the University of Alaska Fairbanks’ Geophysical Institute for the week of Nov. 27

Mountain reflections are seen from the Mendenhall Wetlands. (Courtesy Photo / Denise Carroll)
Wild Shots: Photos of Mother Nature in Alaska

Superb reader-submitted photos of wildlife, scenery and/or plant life.

Clarise Larson / Juneau Empire 
At Wednesday evening’s special Assembly meeting, the Assembly appropriated nearly $4 million toward funding a 5.5% wage increase for all CBJ employees along with a 5% increase to the employer health contribution. According to City Manager Rorie Watt, it doesn’t necessarily fix a nearly two decade-long issue of employee retention concerns for the city.
City funds wage increase amid worker shortage

City Manager says raise doesn’t fix nearly two decade-long issue of employee retainment

(Michael Penn / Juneau Empire File)
Police calls for Saturday, Dec. 3

This report contains information from law enforcement and public safety agencies.

Molly Yazwinski holds a 3,000-year-old moose skull with antlers still attached, found in a river on Alaska’s North Slope. Her aunt, Pam Groves, steadies an inflatable canoe. (Courtesy Photo /Dan Mann)

 

2. A 14,000-year-old fragment of a moose antler, top left, rests on a sand bar of a northern river next to the bones of ice-age horses, caribou and muskoxen, as well as the horns of a steppe bison. Photo by Pam Groves.

 

3. Moose such as this one, photographed this year near Whitehorse in the Yukon, may have been present in Alaska as long as people have. Photo by Ned Rozell.
Alaska Science Forum: Ancient moose antlers hint of early arrival

When a great deal of Earth’s water was locked up within mountains… Continue reading

FILE - Freight train cars sit in a Norfolk Southern rail yard on Sept. 14, 2022, in Atlanta. The Biden administration is saying the U.S. economy would face a severe economic shock if senators don't pass legislation this week to avert a rail worker strike. The administration is delivering that message personally to Democratic senators in a closed-door session Thursday, Dec. 1.  (AP Photo / Danny Karnik)
Congress votes to avert rail strike amid dire warnings

President vows to quickly sign the bill.

Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire
Juneau state Sen. Jesse Kiehl, left, gives a legislative proclamation to former longtime Juneau Assembly member Loren Jones, following Kiehl’s speech at the Juneau Chamber of Commerce’s weekly luncheon Thursday at the Juneau Moose Family Center.
Cloudy economy, but sunnier political outlook lie ahead for lawmakers, Kiehl says

Juneau’s state senator tells Chamber of Commerce bipartisan majority a key to meaningful action

(Michael Penn / Juneau Empire File)
Police calls for Friday, Dec. 2

This report contains information from law enforcement and public safety agencies.

Alaska State Troopers logo.
Hunter credits community members for Thanksgiving rescue

KENAI — On Thanksgiving, Alaska Wildlife Troopers released a dispatch about a… Continue reading

Most Read