After the data appeared in the “Big Lies” seminar, federal and state officials investigated attempts to sabotage the Ohio County Office

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According to two persons with knowledge of the investigation, who asked not to be named, the incident in the office of John Hamacek, the chairman of the Lake County Commission in Ohio, involved someone plugging a personal laptop into the computer network in Hamacek’s office. A third source with knowledge of the investigation, a U.S. official, confirmed that the investigation mainly revolved around a private laptop computer used by the Lake County Commission.

Although no sensitive information was obtained from Hamercheck’s offices, regular Internet traffic unrelated to the election captured by the laptop was later distributed at the August meeting hosted by MyPillow CEO Mike Lindell, which promoted the theft of the 2020 presidential election False claims. People who understand the investigation. Robert Graham, a cyber security expert who attended the meeting hosted by Lindel, told CNN that digital copies of computer files labeled as coming from Lake County were distributed at the event.

Ohio officials stated that there are multiple layers of security measures to prevent any election-related data from being compromised, and the Lake County computer network that contains the Hamercheck office is not connected to the Election Commission computer network.

Many experts and auditors confirmed that there was no widespread fraud in the elections and that voting was safe. But the uproar of disinformation and conspiracy theories from supporters of former President Donald Trump continues. Some election officials face death threats, and experts warn that this is a worrying trend in American democracy.

Two people familiar with the investigation said that the FBI and Ohio officials are investigating the Lake County incident. One of the people familiar with the matter said that the Ohio Attorney General’s Office is also investigating.

The Washington Post first reported the May incident in Hamacek’s office.

Hamercheck did not respond to CNN’s request for an interview. The FBI declined to comment.

Hamercheck told the Washington Post that he was told not to discuss the investigation and that he “knows that there is no criminal activity.”

In 2019, Ohio Secretary of State Frank LaRose issued a directive requiring counties to strengthen their cybersecurity through training and evaluation measures.

“The cybersecurity protocol formulated by the secretary in 2019 worked, and there is no risk of any election data being leaked,” Larose spokesperson Rob Nichols told CNN.

The public disclosure of the Lake County incident occurred after Colorado’s Democratic Secretary of State Jena Griswold accused Colorado’s Mesa County Republican election officials of facilitating a security breach in May earlier this year. This violation resulted in the confidentiality of the voting machine’s login credentials and the forensic images of its hard drive being published on the Telegram channel belonging to the leader of the QAnon movement in early August.

At Lindell’s “webinar” in South Dakota, images of Mesa County were also projected onto the screen.

The Mesa County incident is now the subject of criminal investigations. Election official, Mesa County clerk and recorder Tina Peters said last week that her home was searched by the FBI. Republican Peters has not been charged with any crimes related to the Colorado investigation, and in court documents, she denied authorizing any leaks.

Election security experts told CNN that they worry that these events will encourage the promoters of false election fraud narratives unless they have an impact.

“If law enforcement doesn’t start prosecuting, prosecuting and holding them accountable, we will be in trouble,” said former Denver election director Amber McReynolds.

The US Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency, a federal agency that supports election security, has redoubled its efforts to combat false information related to elections. CNN first reported in October that the Biden administration had hired former Republican Washington Secretary of State Kim Wyman to lead these efforts.

Matthew Masterson, Wyman’s predecessor at CISA and a former official in the Ohio Secretary of State’s Office, praised the state’s election security measures.

“Ohio has appropriate protective measures and responds quickly,” Masterson told CNN. “Other states should follow them, because unfortunately, as the differences intensify, this will continue to happen, and there is still no responsibility for those who spread misinformation about the 2020 election.”



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