Computer security in the US elections – a real fear?

With the election coming on November, we have all been fed a steady stream of intense drama from both candidates. However, one subject we haven’t heard much about is just how safe is our election process? How good is the computer security of the election machines? Most people don’t realize that most voting machines are now simply just small computers. In addition, voter databases are stored on servers in state voting agencies. These databases can be tampered with to add or delete voters.

Reading these headlines should give you a fright:

Foreign Hackers access state voting database (Arizona and Illinois)

Russian hackers target half if US states voting databases

In addition to these, it was found that hackers had probed the computer security of the state of Washington as well.

But the most troubling breach of computer security was in the state of Arizona.

Just how bad was it?

 

Can bad computer security tilt an election?

Back in June, the FBI contacted the Arizona Secretary of State Michele Reagan with news that they had discovered user credentials for sale on the dark web that allowed voters to either be edited, added, or even deleted from state voter registration databases. The dark web are places where criminals go to sell services and stolen products to each other. In this case, the FBI found the credentials that would allow changes to the voting database but not the voting machines.

The good news is that voting machines are not connected to the internet. It would take a personal visit to all the machines in a specific area. the attacker would need to spend at least a few minutes with each machine he wanted to alter. To have an effect on the national elections, this would need to be done in very specific swing states and many machines would need to be effected. That borders on the impossible.

But this does bring up the validity of the integrity of the voting system and its computer security. Perhaps local elections or less important races than the national election could be tampered with.

A quote from Arizona Secretary of State Reagan says it all –

“The last thing we want is outside forces, especially from outside the country, trying to make people think that there’s no integrity in their vote,” Reagan says. “That shakes the very foundation of what we’re trying to do.”

 

 

 

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