Officials: Washington Became Target of a Phishing Campaign

OLYMPIA, Wash (AP) – Washington state is among those being targeted by “large-scale, highly sophisticated” phishing campaigns nationwide, Jay Inslee governor’s office said Thursday.

At a Thursday press conference, Inslee said that the state takes proactive steps to protect the state system, but he said that no ransomware activity has been going on between the institutions targeted, and none have affected state services.

“We are using every resource at our disposal to prevent these criminals – and that is what they are – from potentially put us in that position,” said Inslee.

Inslee and other officials would not provide specifics about phishing activity, for security reasons, but said the latest uptick in the effort has been causing concern.

“We have seen a ramp-up in activity over the past week, which is why we take proactive steps we take to ensure that we are doing the due diligence we need to do to protect the state and of state assets and resources,” says James Weaver, chief information officer of the country. Weaver said that no personal information is obtained in one phishing attempt recently.

Weaver said that private and public entities around the country have experienced a phishing attack and that the countries are working together with the Department of Homeland Security and other federal partners to combat the attacks. Inslee announced that it activates the state emergency operations center and the National Guard cybersecurity team.

“We take this very seriously and it’s been all hands on deck,” said Inslee.

Weaver and Vinod Brahmapuram, chief information security officer countries, saying that they have not seen any indicators that there is an attempt to exploit the infrastructure of the state election but said they would continue to work with Foreign Minister Kim Wyman.

“We will continue to work very collaborative as we see what we see and activities that they can look at to make sure we do a coordinated and comprehensive response,” said Weaver.

An email from Inslee’s office said that the indicators in phishing campaigns at this time are that the sender’s email address does not match the supposed email.

Brahmapuram said that phishing attempts are prevalent throughout the world, and “that’s why it’s important for us all to be so vigilant.”

“We can not let our guard down, we should always pay attention to what comes through, what we click, what we do,” he said.

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