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

This 2020 electron microscope image provided by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases - Rocky Mountain Laboratories shows SARS-CoV-2 virus particles which causes COVID-19, isolated from a patient in the U.S., emerging from the surface of cells cultured in a lab. On Monday, Oct. 5, 2020, the top U.S. public health agency said that coronavirus can spread greater distances through the air than 6 feet, particularly in poorly ventilated and enclosed spaces. But agency officials continued to say such spread is uncommon, and current social distancing guidelines still make sense. (NIAID-RML via AP)
COVID at a glance for Monday, Jan. 18

The most recent state and local numbers.

White House, tribes joined to deliver Alaska Native vaccines

The initiative has treated Indigenous tribes as sovereign governments and set aside special vaccine shipments.

Even as coronavirus numbers are going down and vaccines are being distributed, pandemic-related facilities like the testing site at Juneau International Airport, seen here in this Oct. 12 file photo, are scheduled to remain for some time, according to city health officials. (Peter Segall / Juneau Empire file)
Vaccines are coming, but pandemic facilities will remain

Testing sites and other COVID-19 operations will continue, officials say, but infections are trending down.

After violent protesters loyal to President Donald Trump stormed the U.S. Capitol today, Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, left, and Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., join other senators as they return to the House chamber to continue the joint session of the House and Senate and count the Electoral College votes cast in November's election, at the Capitol in Washington, Wednesday, Jan. 6, 2021. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)
Murkowski on impeachment: ‘I will listen carefully’ to both sides

As for timing, the senator said, “our priority this week must be to ensure safety in Washington, D.C.”

Has it always been a police car. (Michael Penn / Juneau Empire)
Police calls for Sunday, Jan. 17, 2021

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

Juneau City Hall. The City and Borough of Juneau has distributed nearly $5 million in household and individual assistance grants since October. (Peter Segall / Juneau Empire)
All housing and most personal assistance grants processed

About $5 million in aid is flowing to households and individuals in Juneau.

A child plays at Capital School Park. The park is in line for a remodel that will fix the crumbling retaining wall, visible in the background. (Dana Zigmund / Juneau Empire)
A new life is in store for Capital School Park

Public input is helping craft a vision for the park’s voter-approved facelift.

Expected heavy snow and high winds Thursday evening prompted Alaska’s Department of Transportation and Public Facilities to issue a warning of increased avalanche hazard along Thane Road. (File photo)
Avalanche risk increasing along Thane Road

Be careful and plan for the possibility of an extended road closure.

Most Read