Phishing attack hit Illinois Secretary of State’s office

A phishing attack last April compromised the email addresses of two employees at the Illinois Secretary of State's office.
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Bad actors last April compromised two email accounts at the Illinois Secretary of State’s office, officials confirmed to StateScoop on Monday.

The phishing attack originated from a legitimate email address owned by an employee of Lake County, Illinois, north of Chicago, according to a statement shared by the office of Secretary of State Alexi Giannoulias.

The incident, first reported by NBC Chicago, targeted two employees, leading to the exposure of data that may include Social Security numbers and driver’s license information. Officials said that although email accounts were compromised, none of the office’s databases was compromised.

According to the statement from Giannoulias’ office, its technology office “acted within hours” to contain the cyberattack.


“The Secretary of State’s office takes these issues extremely seriously and has engaged multiple third-party cyber security experts to conduct a forensic audit to ascertain the origin of the unauthorized access, strengthen its data security framework against future attacks and implement additional security measures and oversight,” the statement reads.

In addition to maintaining state records, the Illinois Secretary of State’s office is also tasked with “one of the largest and most diverse collections of responsibilities of any of its counterparts nationwide,” according to its website.

The office said it’s offering free credit monitoring subscriptions to anyone who might have been affected. NBC Chicago reported that Giannoulias’ office last month sent out 50,000 letters about the incident.

“Since taking office, the Secretary of State has emphasized the need to overhaul its antiquated IT infrastructure and has made significant investments to enhance the protection of personal data through additional partnerships with cyber security providers and the expansion of our cyber security unit within our IT Department,” the Giannoulias statement reads. “This incident reinforces that continued commitment.”

Corrected June. 11, 2024: This story previously incorrectly stated that the Illinois Secretary of State’s office administers elections. In Illinois, elections are administered by the State Board of Elections.

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