Dark Reading is part of the Informa Tech Division of Informa PLC

This site is operated by a business or businesses owned by Informa PLC and all copyright resides with them.Informa PLC's registered office is 5 Howick Place, London SW1P 1WG. Registered in England and Wales. Number 8860726.

Attacks/Breaches

10/13/2016
01:00 PM
Jai Vijayan
Jai Vijayan
Slideshows
Connect Directly
Twitter
LinkedIn
RSS
E-Mail
100%
0%

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.
Previous
1 of 8
Next

Image Source: Fredex via Shutterstock

Image Source: Fredex via Shutterstock

Concerns about the fragility of US electronic voting systems to cyberattacks go back to 2002 when the Help America Vote Act was passed mandating the replacement of lever-based machines and punchcards with more modern voting equipment.

Those concerns have been greatly amplified this election season with reports of attacks on voter registration systems in some 20 states and intrusions into the Democratic National Committee’s computers by hackers believed to be out of Russia.

The attacks have stirred considerable fears about foreign adversaries and nation-state actors somehow disrupting the elections and even manipulating the outcome of the voting to favor one of the two major party candidates.

The reality is less alarmist than might first appear.

Recent attacks involving the theft of data from voter registration systems in Illinois and Arizona certainly serve as a warning about the potential for foreign actors to cause problems. But the fact is that the attacks have been on systems used to manage the elections and handle tasks like voter registration, not the voting systems that people will use to cast ballots.

The actual machines that people will use to vote are not Internet-connected and are therefore protected against a vast number of cyberattacks that people assume the systems are exposed to, the National Association of Secretaries of State said in an open letter to Congress recently.

In all states but five, a vast majority of the electronic voting equipment that voters use will have paper backups. Some voters will use what are known as Direct-Recording Electronic (DRE) voting systems to cast their votes electronically. Others will mark their choices on a paper ballot and feed it into an optical scanner that will do the ballot counting. In both cases, voters and election officials will have a so-called Voter Verifiable Paper Audit trail that will provide a reliable backup even if the machines fail or are somehow compromised.

Pre-election integrity tests and post-election audits and checks should help spot discrepancies and errors as well, the NASS has noted while cautioning against a loss of public confidence in the US voting system.

Despite such reassurances, security analysts point to several weaknesses in electronic voting systems that attackers could take advantage of to cause varying degrees of problems.

Here are seven of those security weaknesses in e-voting systems.

 

Jai Vijayan is a seasoned technology reporter with over 20 years of experience in IT trade journalism. He was most recently a Senior Editor at Computerworld, where he covered information security and data privacy issues for the publication. Over the course of his 20-year ... View Full Bio

Previous
1 of 8
Next
Comment  | 
Print  | 
More Insights
Comments
Newest First  |  Oldest First  |  Threaded View
Joe Stanganelli
50%
50%
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.
Mobile Banking Malware Up 50% in First Half of 2019
Kelly Sheridan, Staff Editor, Dark Reading,  1/17/2020
Exploits Released for As-Yet Unpatched Critical Citrix Flaw
Jai Vijayan, Contributing Writer,  1/13/2020
Microsoft to Officially End Support for Windows 7, Server 2008
Kelly Sheridan, Staff Editor, Dark Reading,  1/13/2020
Register for Dark Reading Newsletters
White Papers
Video
Cartoon Contest
Write a Caption, Win a Starbucks Card! Click Here
Latest Comment: This comment is waiting for review by our moderators.
Current Issue
The Year in Security: 2019
This Tech Digest provides a wrap up and overview of the year's top cybersecurity news stories. It was a year of new twists on old threats, with fears of another WannaCry-type worm and of a possible botnet army of Wi-Fi routers. But 2019 also underscored the risk of firmware and trusted security tools harboring dangerous holes that cybercriminals and nation-state hackers could readily abuse. Read more.
Flash Poll
[Just Released] How Enterprises are Attacking the Cybersecurity Problem
[Just Released] How Enterprises are Attacking the Cybersecurity Problem
Organizations have invested in a sweeping array of security technologies to address challenges associated with the growing number of cybersecurity attacks. However, the complexity involved in managing these technologies is emerging as a major problem. Read this report to find out what your peers biggest security challenges are and the technologies they are using to address them.
Twitter Feed
Dark Reading - Bug Report
Bug Report
Enterprise Vulnerabilities
From DHS/US-CERT's National Vulnerability Database
CVE-2020-7227
PUBLISHED: 2020-01-18
Westermo MRD-315 1.7.3 and 1.7.4 devices have an information disclosure vulnerability that allows an authenticated remote attacker to retrieve the source code of different functions of the web application via requests that lack certain mandatory parameters. This affects ifaces-diag.asp, system.asp, ...
CVE-2019-15625
PUBLISHED: 2020-01-18
A memory usage vulnerability exists in Trend Micro Password Manager 3.8 that could allow an attacker with access and permissions to the victim's memory processes to extract sensitive information.
CVE-2019-19696
PUBLISHED: 2020-01-18
A RootCA vulnerability found in Trend Micro Password Manager for Windows and macOS exists where the localhost.key of RootCA.crt might be improperly accessed by an unauthorized party and could be used to create malicious self-signed SSL certificates, allowing an attacker to misdirect a user to phishi...
CVE-2019-19697
PUBLISHED: 2020-01-18
An arbitrary code execution vulnerability exists in the Trend Micro Security 2019 (v15) consumer family of products which could allow an attacker to gain elevated privileges and tamper with protected services by disabling or otherwise preventing them to start. An attacker must already have administr...
CVE-2019-20357
PUBLISHED: 2020-01-18
A Persistent Arbitrary Code Execution vulnerability exists in the Trend Micro Security 2020 (v160 and 2019 (v15) consumer familiy of products which could potentially allow an attacker the ability to create a malicious program to escalate privileges and attain persistence on a vulnerable system.