County clerk said email hacked by Russians - WNEM TV 5

County clerk said email hacked by Russians

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GENESEE COUNTY, MI (WNEM) -

A local county clerk said his county email has been hacked by Russians.

Genesee County Clerk John Gleason said the IT department discovered the intrusion on Tuesday.

"Really? I said, 'no way. It can't be,'" Gleason said.

Gleason said it was a spoofing scam, in which the hackers sent out vulgar emails from Gleason’s account.

"A lot of vulgarity. A lot of nonsense and it's concerned me. The first thing I thought is somebody got into the county computer," Gleason said.

The email on Gleason's computer was filled with derogatory and vulgar slurs. It looked like he had sent an email and someone he knew responded. He worried who else received the message.

"We called the sheriff and then we called it to see how we might resolve this," Gleason said.

Gleason said they only know the hack came from someone in Russia, but they do not know who.

"Given the political climate and environment, the fact that it came from Russia did raise some eyebrows a little bit," said Chris Newell, with the Genesee County IT department.

Newell said he believes it was an isolated incident. he said no one else in the county received anything like it, but since Gleason oversees elections they were extra alarmed.

Gleason was concerned because the email looked like he sent it. IT professionals call the practice "spoofing." That is when someone creates an email under a forged email address.

Newell isn't sure what the Russian scammers were after, but is taking a closer look.

"We are not seeing from this email an immediate threat, but we are taking it as a sign that we need to monitor and see if we get more email traffic of this type then we will look at additional steps," Newell said.

Newell said usually spam filters will weed out emails like this, but it looks like the emails may be getting through the spam filter.

Gleason said from now on he will be on high alert when it comes to his emails. He is warning others to do the same.

"So take care of your technology in your own home. Make sure that it is secure. Turn it off," Gleason said.

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