NC Election Board Investigating Software Hacking Attempts

CHARLOTTE, NC – North Carolina election officials are trying to determine if Russian hackers gained access to sensitive voter information.

It comes after a former federal contractor, Reality Winner, leaked a classified intelligence report. She’s locked up facing federal charges.

The report claims hackers sent phishing e-mails, just before the 2016 election, to local election officials pretending to be from VR Systems.

The election software company is based in Florida but has an office in Matthews.

“The concern on our end is that somebody is coming after the election process. That’s been our concern since this all broke last year,” explains Mecklenburg County Elections Director Michael Dickerson.

Dickerson says the county only uses VR Systems to process provisional ballots.

Other counties use it to check-in voters on Election Day.

But the company’s software is not used in the voting booth or to count votes.

And Dickerson says everything is offline, making it nearly impossible for hackers to change any votes.

“There’s no contact to the Internet. There’s no wireless connection to it anywhere,” Dickerson says.

Cybersecurity expert Emory Simmons says phishing attempts are often used to gain personal information like Social Security numbers.

“These attacks are often very targeted,” Simmons explains.

He says an attack on local election officials is bold but not surprising.

“(A) government official would be a great person to go after, right?.. with all the potential access they might have, so yeah doesn’t surprise me in the least,” he says.

Dickerson says he does not believe he was targeted by the phishing scheme.

In the Charlotte area, the VR Systems software is also used in Ashe, Cabarrus, Cleveland, Gaston, and Rowan counties.