At a Boston technology conference last month, computer scientist Alex Halderman showed how easy it was to hack into an electronic voting machine and change the result, without leaving a trace. Halderman staged a mock election in which three conference attendees voted for George Washington, but an infected memory card switched the result to give a 2-1 victory to Benedict Arnold, the military officer who sold secrets during the Revolutionary War. Halderman’s demonstration was on a voting machine still in use in 20 US states, which had no paper ballots that could be compared to the electronic output, and thus no way to determine if vote totals had been altered. “What keeps me up at night is the threat that a hostile nation-state could probe every swing state or swing district (and) find the ones most weakly protected, to silently change the results of a national election,” the University of Michigan professor said.
A month ahead of the midterm congressional elections, security experts say the risks remain high for a hack on voting machines or other targets.
The vote comes two years after the US national election in which, according to intelligence officials, Russian agents probed voter registration networks in at least 20 states and accessed at least one.
Halderman said the Russians had the ability to destroy or alter voting records, which could have led to chaos on election day. He added however that, according to a Senate Intelligence Committee investigation, “they did not pull the trigger on that ability.”
Full Article: Ahead of US election, angst over hacking threats.