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Attacks/Breaches

10/13/2016
01:00 PM
Jai Vijayan
Jai Vijayan
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7 Ways Electronic Voting Systems Can Be Attacked

Pre-election integrity tests and post-election audits and checks should help spot discrepancies and errors, but risks remain.
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Attacks on Election Management and Voter Registration Systems

Voting machines - the equipment that people actually use to cast their ballots - are not connected to the internet and therefore are not remotely accessible in most situations. But the same is not true of the systems that people use to register for voting online.

Security vulnerabilities in such systems can be remotely accessed and exploited over the internet.

Attackers have already targeted online voter registration systems in some 20 states. Two of the states - Illinois and Arizona - have confirmed breaches of their systems. In August, the Illinois State Board of Elections said unknown attackers had potentially accessed 86,000 voter records. In June, Arizona's Secretary of State shut down portions of its voter registration site for a few days after a county official's computer was breached and a credential related to the registration system was compromised.

But the chances of such intrusions somehow effecting election outcomes are remote. 'Poll books, printed records, back-ups and back-ups of back-ups all provide multiple layers of security around this part of the process,' said the National Association of Secretaries of State (NASS).  It is highly difficult to leverage such systems for changing outcomes.

Image Source: Pew Charitable Trusts

Attacks on Election Management and Voter Registration Systems

Voting machines the equipment that people actually use to cast their ballots are not connected to the internet and therefore are not remotely accessible in most situations. But the same is not true of the systems that people use to register for voting online.

Security vulnerabilities in such systems can be remotely accessed and exploited over the internet.

Attackers have already targeted online voter registration systems in some 20 states. Two of the states Illinois and Arizona have confirmed breaches of their systems. In August, the Illinois State Board of Elections said unknown attackers had potentially accessed 86,000 voter records. In June, Arizonas Secretary of State shut down portions of its voter registration site for a few days after a county officials computer was breached and a credential related to the registration system was compromised.

But the chances of such intrusions somehow effecting election outcomes are remote. Poll books, printed records, back-ups and back-ups of back-ups all provide multiple layers of security around this part of the process, said the National Association of Secretaries of State (NASS). It is highly difficult to leverage such systems for changing outcomes.

Image Source: Pew Charitable Trusts

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Joe Stanganelli
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Joe Stanganelli,
User Rank: Ninja
10/15/2016 | 1:43:46 PM
One place where we need open source
Contributing to all of these factors (especially #3) is that electronic voting systems are proprietary and not open source.  Accordingly, there is no real auditing that can be done -- and whenever an update gets pushed out, it has to go through an onerous, lengthy vetting process (where very little genuinely useful information actually gets discovered) -- sometimes up to two years...meaning that systems stay un-updated for two years or more, that the updates may be ineffective if not outright bad, and that local governments don't have the time or money to train their volunteers on the systems.
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