DatCom Blog

Are American Voting Systems Secure?

Are American Voting Systems Secure?

Election Day for the United States is November 6th, and regardless of your feelings regarding U.S. politics, the fact of the matter is that millions of Americans will soon go to the polls and cast their ballots. Unfortunately, what many of them don’t realize is how insecure their voting machines actually are, and how they are potentially putting their vote at risk.

What Most Polling Places Have
The majority of American polling places are operating with equipment that is fast approaching 15 years old. For reference, here’s a brief list of products and technologies that haven’t even been around for ten years yet:

  • Google Chrome
  • Airbnb
  • Spotify
  • Kickstarter
  • 4G
  • Mobile GPS
  • Instagram
  • The iPad

One cofounder of nonprofit group Open Source Election Technology, Greg Miller, puts it this way: "You have equipment that was introduced in 2005. In that time frame, how many times have you changed your mobile phone? And how many times have we replaced our laptops?” In short, the American voting system is reliant on, as Miller described it,”... obsolete hardware [and] software that relies on a diet of spare parts.”

The other cofounder of the nonprofit OSET, John Sebes, has demonstrated just how vulnerable these systems could potentially be to manipulation.

Most polling places collect all of the voting data onto a piece of portable media, like a CD or a USB drive, and bring it to a separate location to be tallied. Unfortunately, the machines used here are also usually outdated, as is the software used to process the results of the vote.

In a live demonstration on a national news network, Sebes used one of these machines to tally votes for two fictional candidates, Thorfer and Varda. In the example, Thorfer had won in a landslide with over 3,000 votes, the opposing Varda only receiving 100. However, with a very simple malware, Sebes was able to just switch the tallies, making “Varda” a fraudulent winner - and while access to these tallying computers is secured, some may not be secured as well as others are.

Furthermore, many polling places maintain a paper backup of the vote, just in case there needs to be a recount, but there are also many who have no paper backup at all. This includes some states known as “battleground” or “swing” states, where a much smaller number of votes can potentially have a significant impact on the final outcome.

How to Minimize the Issue
Unfortunately, the easiest solution to this problem is also impossible. One would think that there would be a singular set of standards for all polling places to abide by - but since the American Constitution specifies that each state is in control of its own electoral procedures, this consistency is effectively made impossible.

However, there are other ways that have been suggested to protect voting technology… some of which are decidedly lower-tech.

Temporarily Eliminate Online Voting
Some states have made online voting available, primarily to service members or other citizens who may be abroad, and many allow email ballots to be submitted. However, until security is improved for these methods, it has been suggested that they are suspended.

Utilize Physical Backups
Yes, we know. We generally say that all of your backups should be saved to the cloud, but in this case, that would be counterproductive. After all, a physically-generated paper backup that records each vote isn’t hackable (unlike a digital system) and could easily be used to cross-check any contested results.

Invest in Improved Voting Equipment
As one might imagine upon hearing that most American voting machines are over a decade old, updating the infrastructure that enables the prime responsibility of democracy is clearly not a priority for those dispersing the funds. It has been suggested that Congress get involved, funding research into improving these machines and replacing the problematic older machines, as was last done in 2002.

Americans view the right to vote as a basic human right, so it seems especially bad that their infrastructure can get in the way of their doing so. Don’t let your business technology do the same to your employees and their work. Reach out to DatCom for a better solution by calling 903-842-2220.

Which Browser is Best for Your Needs?
Tip of the Week: 5 Windows Tricks


No comments made yet. Be the first to submit a comment
Already Registered? Login Here
Sunday, December 16 2018

Captcha Image

Mobile? Grab this Article!

Qr Code

Tag Cloud

Tip of the Week Security Technology Privacy Best Practices Cloud Network Security Hackers Microsoft User Tips Hosted Solutions Business Computing Malware Google Business Internet Tech Term Software Data Backup Backup Hardware Innovation Mobile Devices Data Email Smartphones Communications Data Recovery Business Continuity Android VoIP Workplace Tips Small Business Cloud Computing Ransomware Managed IT Services Smartphone Computer Browser Alert Chrome Outsourced IT Law Enforcement Cybercrime Disaster Recovery Windows 10 Communication Network IT Services Cybersecurity Office 365 Business Management Efficiency Money Collaboration How To Artificial Intelligence Computers Windows Password Miscellaneous Internet of Things IT Support Productivity Applications Server Windows 10 Router Gadgets BDR Information Saving Money Social Media Managed IT Services Word Telephone Systems Productivity Facebook Passwords Virtualization Spam Flexibility Apps Mobile Device Management Operating System Mobility Government App Phishing Voice over Internet Protocol Connectivity Data Security Social Engineering Managed Service Avoiding Downtime Wi-Fi Two-factor Authentication Quick Tips Work/Life Balance Keyboard Data Protection Vulnerability Office Microsoft Office Mobile Device Save Money BYOD Holiday Google Docs Settings Office Tips Remote Computing Public Cloud OneNote Managed IT Employer-Employee Relationship IT Management Comparison Blockchain Bring Your Own Device Redundancy Website Servers Identity Theft Paperless Office Encryption Infrastructure Google Drive Human Resources Data Breach Spam Blocking Data Management VPN Upgrade IT Plan Legal Business Intelligence Bandwidth Virtual Assistant Fraud Health HaaS Update Unsupported Software Scam Networking Telephone System Telephony CES Windows 7 Entertainment Remote Monitoring Software as a Service Private Cloud Sports End of Support Data Storage Content Management Recycling Managing Stress Shortcuts Frequently Asked Questions Remote Work Practices Augmented Reality Meetings Cleaning Smart Office Microchip Net Neutrality Hacking PDF Supercomputer Start Menu Internet exploMicrosoft Workers Wireless Worker Commute Cryptocurrency Audit Online Shopping Smart Tech Budget Addiction Battery eWaste Excel Scalability Hosted Computing Hiring/Firing Remote Worker Users Hybrid Cloud Music Computer Care Search Engine Physical Security FCC Automobile Tools Black Market Warranty Specifications Safe Mode Computer Fan Sync Search Evernote Cache Education Criminal Firewall HVAC Tip of the week Credit Cards Content Inventory Risk Management Wiring Knowledge Data loss Information Technology Wearable Technology Machine Learning Bing Netflix Title II Downtime Password Manager Training Wireless Internet Printer webinar Document Management Staff Patch Management The Internet of Things Automation How to Wireless Charging Computing Infrastructure Enterprise Content Management Windows 10s Windows Server 2008 Audiobook Access Control Politics Devices Unified Threat Management Network Congestion Screen Mirroring Business Mangement USB Samsung YouTube Help Desk HBO Video Games Online Accountants Current Events MSP Root Cause Analysis Botnet Advertising Wire Mouse Conferencing Best Practice Millennials FENG Internet Exlporer Recovery Cortana History Multi-Factor Security Big Data Password Management Apple Instant Messaging Amazon Authentication Thought Leadership Mobile Computing IT Consultant Cast WiFi Gmail Value Company Culture Outlook Telecommuting Electronic Medical Records File Sharing IT Support Experience Charger Administrator Emails Software Tips Workforce Digital Signature IBM Skype Travel Google Apps Marketing Trending Virtual Reality NIST Solid State Drive Flash iPhone Techology Amazon Web Services Nanotechnology HIPAA Camera Leadership Loyalty Safety Webinar Wireless Technology Benefits Regulation Managed Service Provider Worker Printers Hosted Solution SaaS IT solutions Smart Technology CrashOverride Business Owner Emergency Rootkit Employer Employee Relationship Two Factor Authentication Content Filtering Assessment Computer Accessories Vendor Management Save Time Television Bluetooth Troubleshooting Transportation Compliance Shadow IT Books Public Computer Twitter