Foreigners could hack US elections – experts say

Despite continuous warnings from experts about election insecurities, officials still rely on vendors that refuse to disclose how their machines run, deeming their code “proprietary.”

WhoWhatWhy News Media Website

What if a foreign head of state had the power to handpick our next President? It sounds like the plot of a movie, but it actually might be in the realm of possibility.

Most people take our elections for granted. The few who don’t often suspect that one party might be trying to steal votes from the other. But they don’t envision that the theft could be coming from outside US borders.

What experts are telling us, though, is that our voting machines are so insecure that all elections, whether at the national, state, or local level, are vulnerable to being attacked by hackers in other countries.

Chinese and Russian hackers, for instance, have reportedly breached government databases. The government of Israel has been accused of espionage against the US and of hacking in France. And tech giants like Google and Sony have been attacked successfully in the past. Indeed, it’s been proven that everything from cars to sniper rifles to traffic lights can be broken into.

Certainly there would be a massive interest abroad in manipulating US elections.

For example, Russia may want to prevent a hawk like John McCain, who wants weapons in the Ukraine and faces a tough battle for his job next fall, from getting reelected.

Israel’s leaders believe that the Iran nuclear deal would doom their country, so if they thought they could get away with it, would they try to put in office US representatives who share that view?

And if China wanted to undermine trade deals like the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), the Trade in Services Agreement (TiSA), and the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP), which are seen by some as attempts by the United States to encircle and maintain dominance over that emerging Asian power, it could swing elections for legislators who have come out against such trade pacts.

This begs the question: Given that the security at some of our most protected institutions can be breached, and given that US elections pose an enticing target for our adversaries, what would prevent a foreign agent from hacking our ballot boxes?

The answer: Not much.

Experts indicate that the election systems in place today do not provide the adequate protection that would be able to stop a foreign hacker — a hacker anywhere, in fact — from rigging our races. Even worse, these attacks could go undetected.

It’s difficult for computer scientists to pinpoint exactly how many programmers around the world are capable of remotely breaching an election software — whether that’s the vote itself or other related data — like voter registration records. However, many agree that the intellectual barrier is not significant.

Since such attacks can easily go unnoticed, evidence of remote hacks is scarce. But it’s likely they’re happening more than we know, considering that unencrypted connections over the open internet aren’t too hard for a knowledgeable college student to breach.

Thus, it’s conceivable that anyone around the world with a somewhat advanced knowledge of computers is able to peer into our electoral machinery and potentially compromise our votes.

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Reposted by ( with permission of WhoWhatWhy News/Media Website

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