I’m sure you don’t need a reminder, but it’s an election year in the United States. This historically intense time is even more extreme due to the challenges of COVID-19. In a pandemic, is it safe to have millions of Americans line up behind a ballot box?
Many states are expanding their mail-in-voting capabilities, a method election security experts believe is necessary to ensure our safety in November. However, other states are pivoting to online voting, which brings a new set of cybersecurity challenges.
According to the Department of Homeland Security, voting over the Internet may lead to cyber attacks and altered votes. As the Guardian’s Kim Zetter writes: “[the] more serious risks from marking ballots online and the most ‘significant security risks’ come with electronic ballot return.”
But what do industry insiders think about these rapid changes to our voting capabilities? Earlier this year, Venafi conducted a survey on election infrastructure cyber security, which evaluated the opinions of 485 IT security professionals attending RSA Conference 2020.
"70% of security professionals believe their local governments cannot adequately defend election infrastructure"
According to our survey, 70 percent of security professionals believe their local governments cannot adequately defend election infrastructure against domestic and international cyber attacks. In addition, 75 percent believe that the spread of disinformation is the greatest threat to election integrity.
“Many of the cyber attacks targeting elections come from machines, which can automatically spread information and direct attacks on the systems that count votes,” said Kevin Bocek, vice president of security strategy and threat intelligence at Venafi. “Security professionals are rightly concerned about cyber threats impacting the democratic process. Organizations may have difficulty curbing deceptive or inaccurate information from people; however, they can keep their machines from spreading malicious disinformation.”
Bocek concluded: “The election season is already in process and COVID-19 adds a new layer of security complications. Cyber attackers may take advantage of this period of uncertainty to undermine further public confidence by spreading disinformation. As a result, it’s not surprising security professionals are concerned that governments won’t be able to safeguard election data.”
Do you think our election infrastructure is ready for November? Would you be comfortable casting a vote online?