SOS talks about cybersecurity, deceptive mailings and election integrity

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Montana Secretary of State Christi Jacobsen called KGVO News on Friday after cybersecurity threats surfaced in Montana, in addition to addressing local election integrity.

Jacobsen began with a warning to state companies about possible email cyberattacks.

“Basically, that’s what you do with your email,” Secretary Jacobsen began. “So if you recognize there is a threat; if there are unknown senders and you don’t know their addresses, be careful when clicking or accepting emails. For example, if there are errors and the sender’s address, so if there are spelling mistakes or something like that, it’s a common signal that it could be a cyberattack.

Jacobsen also detailed an investigation into misleading mail that appears to have come from the Secretary of State’s office.

“There is misleading mail that has been sent intermittently over the past year,” she said. “The mailing is entitled Application form “Certificate of existence 2022”. It looks like it appears to come from the Secretary of State’s office as an official document when in fact it is not associated with our office at all. Basically, the mailing offers the certificate for a business for a fee of $80, but in fact, you can just go directly to our secretary of state’s website and order the certificate for $5.

Jacobsen also addressed ongoing lawsuits against new election security legislation that was just passed last session.

“We are currently fighting to maintain the laws that Montanans would like to see in the books they remain,” she said. “So we are busy fighting these lawsuits, and I also plan to seek legislation in the next session to strengthen our post-election audit process.”

KGVO asked Jacobsen about the ongoing controversy over the video that was deleted after the 2020 election in Missoula.

“Video retention is something that is determined locally,” she said. “It’s something that’s the policy at the local level, whether it’s in Missoula County or Yellowstone County or Lewis and Clark County to keep these videos. Again, it’s something that’s determined locally, so this needs to be adjusted or changed. I anticipate that efforts are underway to resolve this issue.

Jacobsen said election integrity is paramount in the secretary of state’s office.

“But I wanted to say that one of the electoral integrity bills that I requested and passed was about enhancing security, and we are currently working on implementing the rules on that,” said- she declared. “I hope we will have them finalized and everyone can use them in the next month, so that it also contributes to security around the elections.”

Jacobsen said the deadline for companies to file their annual reports with the secretary of state’s office is April 15.

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