It took just 90 minutes to demonstrate that US elections can be hacked.
In August 2018, the DefCon white hat hacker (i.e. “good guy” hacker) convention held each year in Las Vegas held their second annual Voting Machine Hacking Village where the assembled experts spent 90 minutes hacking into more than a dozen different types of voting machines, changing their programming, infiltrating the broader election network, looking for vulnerabilities and points of attack and doing fun things like turning the electronic voting machines into jukeboxes just to prove they could.
The goal was to demonstrate to voting machine manufacturers, government agencies and others the ways in which the US election system is vulnerable to hacking in order to both scare and motivate those in power to take action to protect the integrity of the US election system. But election officials cannot act on the hackers’ findings if they do not have the will, money and other resources to tackle the problem and that may be the most important outcome of the DefCon exercise.
After nearly two decades, Congress finally appropriated $340 million last month to fund cybersecurity resources and upgrades to everything from obsolete voting machines to network infrastructure. When that money was originally requested, the threat was the confusion over “hanging chads” not cyberterrorists. Now two decades later, the once-ridiculed paper ballots and punch voting machines may be the most secure part of the voting network. After all, you can’t hack paper.
Former White House liaison to the DHS who helped organize Election Village, Jake Braun, said part of the goal is to end the fantasy that these machines are unhackable, that the databases are air-gapped (isolated from outside attacks) and that votes cannot be changed. While it’s not clear that actual voting machines have been hacked or votes changed, United States intelligence experts agree that other voting systems were hacked by the Russians and they targeted election-related systems in 21 states.
Moreover, it’s possible that we are still looking in the wrong place. In an interview given by Malcolm Nance, author of The Plot to Destroy Democracy: How Putin and His Spies Are Undermining America and Dismantling the West the career US counter-terrorism and intelligence officer stated that paper ballots and mail in ballots cannot easily be hacked. The best approach is to target the single laptop in a state registrar’s office that tallies up the votes from different voting machines and polling stations and make it change numbers right before peoples’ face so that you throw the entire system into chaos. Making the voting system itself untrustworthy would not just swing the election to one party or the other, but it would completely undermine the public’s confidence in democratic elections, which is a far more dangerous outcome.
In light of this, many media outlets failed to cover that when some voting machines were hacked, they revealed voter registration information including the identities of thousands of registered voters in the state of Florida. Old computers were sold on eBay without being properly wiped of all their sensitive data. Unfortunately, this type of massive data breach is all too common and can easily expose millions of consumers to fraud and identity theft.
At MyProfyle, we believe this carelessness is further proof that everyone’s information is at risk from many different sources and that we are all exposed multiple times per year. The solution to identity fraud is not to try to lock your identity or seek unobtainable privacy but to control your identity – not just your credit – by putting yourself in the position know of, approve or decline activity conducted in your name. That’s MyProfyle Free For Life ™ Identity Protection.
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