Thursday, Sept. 26, 2019
Contact: Kristen Schulze Muszynski
626-8404/ cell: 441-7638             

Phishing attack shuts down some CEC services

AUGUSTA – The Office of Information Technology and the Secretary of State’s Office are restoring computer services today after a virus attack hit several state computers. Due to thorough and pro-active virus protection measures, no public data is compromised, and impacted services should be restored later today.

“The cybersecurity measures we have in place through OIT, combined with the immediate actions taken by our Information Services team, left us with minimal impact from what could otherwise have been a far more serious incident,” said Secretary Dunlap.

The virus was identified at 3 p.m. Wednesday afternoon by a cybersecurity alert system in place via the Office of Information Technology. The SOS Information Services staff are now conducting virus removal procedures, which began Wednesday evening.

The Maine Bureau of Corporations, Elections and Commissions staff computers are affected, as well as two servers at the Bureau of Motor Vehicles and a server at the Maine State Archives. The two BMV servers are only used for internal testing purposes and do not serve any public-facing function. The Maine State Archives server is used for scanning documents and likewise does not serve a public function.

The virus attack consisted of 1,600 emails, but various layers of security prevented all but 18 emails from reaching employee inboxes. The virus appears to have entered these email systems via a spam email that included a malicious link.

“All State employees complete annual training in cybersecurity measures, since much of our work involves responding to emails from the public,” said Secretary Dunlap. “It presents a difficult challenge when viruses such as these are specially designed to look like legitimate correspondence. We are always continuing to improve our abilities to spot these harmful emails and prevent them from doing damage.”

SOS employees have been reminded to continue vigilance to guard against these cyber-attacks, and CEC is expected to have its computers back in service later today. The Bureau of Motor Vehicles is closed today for a bureau-wide staff training, unrelated to this virus attack.