Breach cripples Ohio Secretary of State's site

The Web site of Ohio's secretary of state was shut down after it was hacked Monday, according to the site and local media reports. The site was later restored, but with only limited functionality.

Tuesday morning, the site devoted to Ohio Secretary of State Jennifer Brunner still displayed a terse notice of the breach. "Due to security concerns experienced by the Secretary of State's website, full functionality of the website has been suspended to protect the integrity of state records and data," the message read. "Full functionality will be restored when we are assured that all data has been protected and restored to acceptable levels of security."

Brunner's communications office did not respond to questions this morning about the hack and the current status of the site.

According to the Cleveland Plain Dealer, Brunner, a Democrat, has been under fire from state Republicans, who have challenged some of her election directives.

The incident is only the most recent involving Brunner's office. Ohio's State Highway Patrol is also investigating a suspicious package that was delivered to her office last week, as well as threatening phone calls and e-mails, the newspaper reported yesterday.

Brunner is no stranger to technology, and has been vocal in her criticism of electronic voting machines, which Ohio officials have said are unreliable. In March, the state determined that some voting systems manufactured by Premier Elections Solutions Inc., a subsidiary of Diebold Inc. , dropped votes as they were being uploaded to a main server.

In August, Brunner sued the voting machine maker for damages caused by its systems dropping votes in the March primary. Earlier, Premier Elections Solutions had filed a lawsuit against Brunner's office and Cuyahoga County, Ohio, asking a court to rule that the company did not violate its contracts or warranties with the state and county.

In an interview with Computerworld earlier this month, Brunner said the results of electronic voting machine tests had been so dismal that "I thought I was going to throw up."

When Ohio voters go to the polls in two weeks, they will be allowed to choose between the touch-screen systems and paper ballots.

Copyright © 2008 IDG Communications, Inc.

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