Georgia Secretary of State restricts Fulton County voter system access, citing recent cyber attack

FULTON COUNTY, Ga. — Following a cyberattack on the Fulton County Government Sunday night, which led to the shutdown of multiple systems over the weekend, the Georgia Secretary of State’s Office is restricting Fulton officials’ access to the state’s voter registration system.

The move to restrict its access could cause difficulties with the Fulton County Board of Registrations and Elections heading into the March 12 presidential primary.

The cybersecurity incident on Sunday has already led to changes in some county services.

The Fulton County Department of Information Technology is still working to restore full operations to county systems.

The Fulton County Tax Commissioner’s Office, county library systems, Fulton County Sheriff’s Office, the county court systems, and multiple other government online and phone services were impacted. The District Attorney’s Office also switched its operation procedures on Wednesday.

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Out of an abundance of caution, the Secretary of State’s Office was restricting voter registration system access to maintain the integrity of state and county information systems, according to information provided by county officials.

Jessica Corbitt, a spokeswoman for Fulton County, provided the following statement, in part, to Channel 2′s Richard Elliot.

“As soon as Fulton County became aware of unauthorized activity that has temporarily affected certain systems, it immediately took steps to protect its network and reported the matter to law enforcement. Fulton County is working closely with a leading cybersecurity firm to investigate the nature and the scope of the event and to bring impacted systems securely back online.

There is no indication that this event is related to the election process. In an abundance of caution, Fulton County and the Secretary of State’s respective technology systems were isolated from one another as part of the response efforts. We are working with our team to securely re-connect these systems as preparations for upcoming elections continue.”

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On Tuesday, Fulton County Chairman Rob Pitts told Channel 2′s Tyisha Fernandes that the incident was caused by a cybersecurity breach.

The county’s most recent update on impacted services, published Wednesday, showed the following service summaries and updates:

  • Phone lines are down at most Fulton County offices. For alternate phone numbers and emails, please visit www.fultoncountyga.gov or contact customerservice@fultoncountyga.gov
  • The Fulton County justice system has been affected by the widespread outage. Justice agencies are collaborating to use backup processes to continue first appearance hearings and all other scheduled court hearings. Some other court transactions are unavailable at this time, including e-filing and access to online records. The Fulton County Sheriff’s Office is currently relying on backup (paper) processes for detainee processing.
  • The Fulton County Tax Commissioner Office in downtown Atlanta will reopen on Wednesday, January 31. All offices will now be able to process all motor vehicle-related transactions. Property tax transactions are still unavailable. The Georgia Department of Revenue has approved a “holiday” for Fulton County customers who were not able to process their motor vehicle permits during this outage.
  • Offices of the Superior and Magistrate Clerk at the North Fulton and South Fulton Service Centers have reopened to customers for notary commission and passport application services. It is recommended that customers visit the Clerk’s website to make an appointment.
  • Fulton County Probate Court offices are now able to issue marriage licenses and firearms permit renewals. New firearms permits and marriage certificates are unavailable at this time.
  • Hearings of the Boards of Equalization scheduled through Monday, February 5 have been postponed and will be rescheduled for a future time.
  • Online property records of the Fulton County Board of Assessors are unavailable due to this outage, and no property related transactions may be processed at this time.
  • The Fulton County Library System’s online catalog and platforms are available. Public computers at Fulton County libraries are unavailable at this time.
  • Fulton County water service is unaffected by the outage, but billing and payment services are offline at this time.
  • Fulton County’s 911 system is operational for all members of the public served by the center.
  • Fulton County Police Department is unable to issue Police Reports at this time.
  • Fulton County Elections offices are temporarily closed. Logic and Accuracy testing is continuing at the Fulton County Elections Hub.
  • Fulton County Senior Centers are all operational.
  • Services of the Department of Behavioral Health & Developmental Disabilities are operational.

At this time, county officials say there’s nothing that indicates personal information was exposed, but they are still checking to make sure that it is, in fact, the case.

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