Ohio Secretary of State responds to Iranian cyber threats

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COLUMBUS, Ohio (WJW) — Increased tension between the U.S. and Iran has prompted a special alert from Ohio’s secretary of state to county elections officials. This week, several states have reported attempted cyberattacks that appear to be coming from Iran.

Frank LaRose wants to emphasize there have been no successful intrusions into Ohio’s election network at the state level or county level. He has directed all 88 county boards of election to complete what he calls a very aggressive checklist to ensure the networks are secure.

“Cyberattacks, we know that the threat is real,” said LaRose in a video released on YouTube.

The Secretary of State issued an online warning Wednesday after learning about an increase in suspicious cyber activity from IP addresses originating from several countries, including Iran.

“Due to the global situation, many of us have on our minds, the possibility of an attack from Iran. Well, I’m here to reassure every Ohio voter that when you go to cast your ballot, it’s gonna be accurately counted,” he continues in the video.

LaRose says he issued a special notice to the state’s 88 county boards of elections, with instructions for managing potential cyber threats.

“Given the global situation and the threats that have been made by the Iranian regime, we wanted to make sure that we were responding to that. So, ‘yes,’ there are a series of IP addresses, for example, that we have told the counties to block from the firewalls,” said LaRose.

LaRose says there have been no successful breaches of any election networks in Ohio. He says his office has been in touch with the Department of Homeland Security, the Ohio National Guard and elections officials in other states, including Colorado and West Virginia.

“My CIO frequently corresponds with his counterparts in other states…They had noticed some activity that they pointed out to us and it corresponds with some activities that we’ve been hearing about from other places,” he said.

The Secretary of State added that Ohio county elections boards were already in the final steps of a 34-point security enhancement issued last summer in preparation for the 2020 election and beyond.

“The bad guys only have to be right once and we have to be right every day,” LaRose said.

LaRose says Ohio is also creating a “first of its kind” cyber-reserve force, along with the Ohio National Guard.
That would be a force of volunteers that would be activated to jump into action if there ever was a cyberattack.

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