National: States Ask Feds for Cybersecurity Scans Following Election Hacking Threats | Government Technology

A spate of hacking attacks has put U.S. states on edge ahead of November’s presidential vote as election officials rush to plug cybersecurity gaps with help from the federal government. Nine states have asked for “cyber hygiene” scans in which the Department of Homeland Security looks for vulnerabilities in election authorities’ networks that are connected to the internet, according to a DHS official who asked not to be identified because the information isn’t public. With less than two months before the election, DHS wants more states to sign up. The threat — primarily from foreign hackers or intelligence agencies — affects states that are reliably Democratic or Republican as well as key battlegrounds including Pennsylvania and Ohio, officials and cybersecurity experts said. While hackers may not be able to change the actual outcome from afar, they could sow doubts by manipulating voter registration websites, voter databases and systems used to track results on election night. “We’re certainly on high alert,” said Dean Logan, the registrar-recorder and county clerk in Los Angeles County, the nation’s biggest electoral district. “Across the whole network of services and online applications for the county there are frequent indications of attempts to get into those systems.”

National: See How Likely It Is That Your Voting Booth Gets Hacked | TIME

In a world where we can program our refrigerators to order more milk or conjure images of distant galaxies with a few swipes on a smartphone, it’s significant that the best, most reliable technology available on Election Day 2016 is good, old-fashioned paper. “It seems counterintuitive, but paper is a technology that just happens to work really well for elections,” says Pamela Smith, the president of Verified Voting, a nonpartisan organization that advocates for accurate and transparent elections. “You can’t hack a piece of paper. Voters can mark it and see their vote, and then the ballots can be collected and double-checked.” … The real problem, said Lawrence Norden, the deputy director of the Brennan Center for Justice Democracy Program, lies with the nearly 40 million Americans who won’t be voting on paper, again based on 2012 figures. Those voters will instead be saddled with electronic voting machines (the yellow and red-colored counties on the map), many of which are more than a decade old, lack basic cybersecurity protections, and utilize hardware no more sophisticated than a stripped down, Bush-era laptop. In 42 states, electronic voting machines are more than a decade old, according to Norden’s research. (Many states still use such machines for voters who require special assistance.)

National: Obstacles facing homeless voters | Al Jazeera

Inside the wide, sunlit foyer of the Martin Luther King Jr Memorial Library, Eric Sheptock points to an expansive mural of the late civil rights activist. “I wish that the poor people of today were as willing to fight for justice as those who marched with Martin Luther King,” he says. “It seems that the poor have lost heart and are less willing to stand up for themselves.” Sheptock, who has been intermittently homeless since 1994, has become an activist for Washington DC’s homeless community, which he hopes will vote in the forthcoming elections when Americans head to the polls to choose their 45th president. “There is no reason for a homeless person not to vote,” he tells Al Jazeera. “You can’t be denied the right to vote because you’re homeless.”

National: Some Republicans Acknowledge Leveraging Voter ID Laws for Political Gain | The New York Times

In April of this year, Representative Glenn Grothman, Republican of Wisconsin, predicted in a television interview that the state’s photo ID law would weaken the Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton’s chances of winning the state in November’s election. It was not the first time he cited voter ID requirements’ impact on Democrats; in 2012, speaking about the law’s effect on President Obama’s re-election race, Mr. Grothman said voter ID requirements hurt Democrats because Democratic voters cheat more often — a premise that remains unproven. One of the few verified instances of recent voter fraud at a Wisconsin polling place — the only kind of fraud that a photo ID might prevent — padded a Republican governor’s tally.

Also in Wisconsin, Todd Allbaugh, 46, a staff aide to a Republican state legislator, attributed his decision to quit his job in 2015 and leave the party to what he witnessed at a Republican caucus meeting. He wrote on Facebook:

I was in the closed Senate Republican Caucus when the final round of multiple Voter ID bills were being discussed. A handful of the GOP Senators were giddy about the ramifications and literally singled out the prospects of suppressing minority and college voters. Think about that for a minute. Elected officials planning and happy to help deny a fellow American’s constitutional right to vote in order to increase their own chances to hang onto power.

National: Putin wants revenge and respect, and hacking the U.S. is his way of getting it | The Washington Post

The recent spate of embarrassing emails and other records stolen by Russian hackers is President Vladimir Putin’s splashy response to years of what he sees as U.S. efforts to weaken and shame him on the world stage and with his own people, according to Russia experts here and in the U.S. intelligence world and academia. Putin is seeking revenge and respect, and trying to reassert Russia’s lost superpower status at a time of waning economic clout and an upcoming Russian election, according to interviews with specialists here and in Washington, with a senior U.S. intelligence official, recently retired CIA operations officers in charge of Russia, and the last three national intelligence officers for Russia and Eurasia analysis in the Office of the Director of National Intelligence. “He’s saying, if you think you have the chops to do this — well, we do, too!” said Fiona Hill, a national intelligence officer for Russia during the George W. Bush and Obama administrations who is now at the Brookings Institution.

National: Could Russian hackers change the US election result? | Al Jazeera

With the US election less than two months away, recent attempts to hack election data systems have prompted some officials to say that Russia could be trying to manipulate the race. But is such a thing likely? Or are the claims just propaganda? The cyber attacks on voter registration systems in Arizona and Illinois late last month were blamed by some anonymous officials on Russia, and followed a high-profile hack of Democratic Party computers that resulted in a cache of emails being released by WikiLeaks. While the voter registration hack resulted in the theft of only a single username and password, the FBI is investigating.

National: Polling places become battleground in U.S. voting rights fight | Reuters

Louis Brooks, 87, has walked to cast a vote at his neighborhood polling place in Georgia’s predominantly black Lincoln Park neighborhood for five decades. But not this year. Brooks says he will not vote in the presidential election for the first time he can remember after local officials moved the polling station more than 2 miles (3 km) away as part of a plan to cut the number of voting sites in Upson County. “I can’t get there. I can’t drive, and it’s too far to walk,” said Brooks, a black retired mill worker and long-time Democratic Party supporter. He said he does not know how to vote by mail and doesn’t know anyone who can give him a ride. A Reuters survey found local governments in nearly a dozen, mostly Republican-dominated counties in Georgia have adopted plans to reduce the number of voting stations, citing cost savings and efficiency.

National: Sowing Doubt Is Seen as Prime Danger in Hacking Voting System | The New York Times

Russian hackers would not be able to change the outcome of the United States presidential election, the nation’s most senior intelligence and law enforcement officials have assured Congress and the White House in recent weeks. But disrupting it, they acknowledge, would be far easier — causing doubts in battleground states, prompting challenges to results and creating enough chaos to make Florida’s hanging chads seem like a quaint problem from the analog age. By some measures, in fact, the disruption has already begun. And meddling around the edges of an election could sow doubts about the legitimacy of the results — especially in a year in which the Republican nominee, Donald J. Trump, has told his supporters that the only way he will lose is if the election is “rigged,” and while campaign officials for his Democratic opponent, Hillary Clinton, have held a series of meetings about preparing for the possibility that the vote will be hacked. The White House has declined to name Russia publicly as the chief suspect in a series of recent hacks, and has worded its public warnings carefully. The greatest danger, Lisa O. Monaco, President Obama’s domestic security adviser, said on Wednesday, is from attempts to cause “concern or confusion” about the voting system.

National: Lawmakers weigh federal role in preventing election hacks | The Hill

The House Science Committee met Tuesday to discuss efforts to safeguard the November elections from hacking threats, with lawmakers pressing officials on the potential danger and the federal response. Concerns over an election hack have grown after recent breaches to Illinois and Arizona’s online voter registration databases and the Democratic National Committee email hack. “Rightly, we should be concerned about the integrity of our election system,” said Rep. Barry Loudermilk (R-Ga.), who pressed witnesses on whether elections should be treated as critical infrastructure requiring federal support. “Typically, whatever we get involved with doesn’t run as well as if the state is doing it themselves,” he cautioned.

National: Can your vote be hacked—after you cast it? | The Parallax

In early August, Donald Trump began expressing fear that the U.S. presidential election would be “rigged” against him. “I’m afraid the election is going to be rigged, I have to be honest,” Trump told an audience in Columbus, Ohio. While much has been written about his remarks—as well as several others he made in the weeks following the Democratic National Convention—it remains an open question whether electronic databases storing votes can be hacked and manipulated. Voting has entered the digital era on two fronts. Electronic voting machines and, in some locations, Internet voting have introduced numerous opportunities for hackers to alter voting records. It is the security of massive spreadsheets recording the will of the people that concerns Richard Forno, a computer security expert who recently thrust himself into the national debate over the hackability of U.S. elections by publishing a column on the subject. “Everyone’s focusing on the edges of the network, the voting machines, but no one’s looking at the databases,” Forno, a career computer security expert and currently the director of the Graduate Cybersecurity Program at the University of Maryland at Baltimore County, tells The Parallax.

National: House homeland security chairman urges Obama administration to secure election system | InsideCyberSecurity

House Homeland Security Chairman Michael McCaul (R-TX) is urging the Obama administration to act quickly to secure the nation’s election system amid allegations of Russian hacker interference, rejecting concerns that the move would be a federal takeover over a system managed at the state and local level. “We can’t afford to let a foreign government attack our country – our election system,” McCaul said today at the Internet Security Alliance conference on Capitol Hill. “We can’t afford to let a foreign government attack our country – our election system,” McCaul said today at the Internet Security Alliance conference on Capitol Hill. McCaul referred to a “debate going on within the administration” over designating the national election system as critical infrastructure, which would allow the Department of Homeland Security to provide assistance under a national program for a coordinated response to risks to critical industry sectors.

National: FBI trying to build legal cases against Russian hackers: sources | Reuters

The Federal Bureau of Investigation is intensifying efforts to find enough evidence to enable the Justice Department to indict some of the Russians that U.S. intelligence agencies have concluded are hacking into American political parties and figures, U.S. law enforcement and intelligence officials said on Thursday. Building legal cases is difficult, largely because the best evidence against foreign hackers is often highly classified, they said. Still, some White House and State Department officials think legal action is the best way to respond to what they said are growing Russian attempts to disrupt and discredit the November elections, without sparking an open confrontation with Russian President Vladimir Putin. “Doing nothing is not an option, because that would telegraph weakness and just encourage the Russians to do more meddling, but retaliating in kind carries substantial risks,” said one U.S. official involved in the administration’s deliberations. Russia has denied it sponsors or encourages any hacking activity.

National: Can the vote really be hacked? Here’s what you need to know | CS Monitor

Recent cyberattacks on state voter databases and the Democratic National Committee are raising fresh concerns that hackers could manipulate the upcoming presidential election. … “When people hear how the Russians have infiltrated political parties or state election sites, they immediately jump to, ‘Oh, they can flip votes and change the result of an election,’ ” said Lawrence Norden, deputy director of the Democracy Program at New York University’s Brennan Center for Justice. That’s much easier said than done, said Mr. Norden. State boards of elections and law enforcement officials are working to protect the vote, and election officials do have measures in place to safeguard elections. For instance, the Department of Homeland Security said it will monitor closely for suspected breaches on voting systems and work with election boards to bolster their security. Still, according to Norden and other experts, more needs to be done. Here’s a closer look at potential problems at today’s ballot box and some solutions to harden the vote against hackers.

National: Why Can’t Americans Vote Online? | Tom’s Guide

If we were to poll the readers of this article, we would likely find that the vast majority of readers — if not all — regularly shop online, make banking transactions online, fill out registrations and applications online, pay taxes online and maybe even vote for contestants in reality shows online. Yet Americans cannot vote for candidates for public office online. … But experts warn that online voting isn’t as simple as it sounds. Even though it has already been tried in a few places around the world, it probably can’t be secured. We already worry about hackers stealing our credit cards and our identities. If we voted online, we would have to worry about hackers stealing our elections, too.… Several countries have experimented with online voting, but none has forged ahead as far as the tiny Baltic country of Estonia, where nearly a third of ballots are cast online. But Estonia’s elections don’t look anything like those of the United States, where more votes are cast in some cities than in all of Estonia. The Estonian online voter must plug a national ID card — mandatory for all Estonians older than 15, and each of which has an embedded encrypted chip — into a card reader attached to his or her computer. It sounds secure, but two independent assessments, led by Verified Voting in 2011 and the University of Michigan in 2014, found serious flaws with the system.

National: Hackers are already shaping U.S. election coverage with data leaks | Computerworld

Hackers are becoming a major source of political leaks in this year’s presidential race. Case in point: On Tuesday, stolen emails from former secretary of state Colin Powell became headline news after a mysterious site with possible ties to Russian cyber spies gave them to the press. Since then, media outlets have been pointing out juicy details found in the emails. For example, Powell called Clinton “greedy” and her rival Donald Trump a “national disgrace.” The incident has security experts worried that hackers are manipulating U.S. media outlets to influence this year’s election. “The media is certainly being used as a battlefield here,” said Rich Barger, CIO with security firm ThreatConnect.

National: Organization Of American States To Observe U.S. Election | NPR

The upcoming presidential election will mark a surprising first. Yes, a woman will be on the ballot as a major party nominee. But in addition, for the first time ever, the Organization of American States is sending poll observers to watch as U.S. voting takes place. The OAS, based in Washington, D.C., has previously observed elections in 26 of its 34 member nations, but never before in the United States. The mission will be led by former Costa Rican President Laura Chinchilla. Gerardo de Icaza, the OAS director of electoral observation and cooperation, says “a small deployment” of 20 to 30 observers will be sent at the invitation of the U.S. State Department. He says the OAS views it “as a learning experience” and will issue nonbinding recommendations “that can improve the electoral system anywhere.” Those recommendations will be shared with the other OAS members.

National: DHS won’t define election systems as critical before November | FedScoop

The Department of Homeland Security will not classify election systems as critical infrastructure before the November presidential election, DHS Assistant Secretary for Cybersecurity Andy Ozment said at the Billington Cybersecurity Summit Tuesday. “This is not something we’re looking to in the near future. This is a conversation we’re having in the long term with state and local government, who are responsible for voting infrastructure,” said Ozment, a former senior director for cybersecurity on the National Security Council. “We’re focused right now on what we can usefully offer that local and state government will find valuable.”

National: NSA Chief: Potential Russian Hacking of U.S. Elections a Concern | NBC

The head of the National Security Agency said Tuesday that the potential for Russia to harm the U.S. electoral process in the upcoming general election is a concern. Cybersecurity officials have become increasingly worried about the issue in the wake of revelations that Russia-based hackers were behind two recent hacking attempts into state voter registration databases. One incident included stealing information from roughly 200,000 Illinois voting records. In another attempt in Arizona, cyber criminals used malware to try and breach voting records, forcing state officials to disable online voting registration for nine days as they investigated the unsuccessful hacking.

National: Possible Russian Meddling with US Elections Worries Key Defense Officials | VoA News

Top U.S. defense officials insist they are not turning a blind eye to fears that Russian hackers are trying to hijack upcoming U.S. presidential and local elections. Still, the scope of the threat and just how the U.S. plans to respond remain unclear. “This continues to be an issue of great focus,” said Adm. Michael Rogers, who serves as both National Security Agency Director and chief of the Defense Department’s Cyber Command. “I’m not going to characterize this activity,” Rogers told members of the Senate Armed Services Committee on Tuesday, but added “I think there are scenarios where you could see capability applied.” The question was first raised by Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman John McCain, a long-time Republican senator from Arizona who is running for reelection … “They need not attack every county in every state,” said Rice University Professor Dan Wallach. “It’s sufficient for them to go after battleground states where a small nudge can have a large impact.”

National: Guccifer 2.0 drops more DNC docs | Politico

The hacker persona Guccifer 2.0 has released a new trove of documents that allegedly reveal more information about the Democratic National Committee’s finances and personal information on Democratic donors, as well as details about the DNC’s network infrastructure. The cache also includes purported memos on tech initiatives from Democratic vice presidential nominee Tim Kaine’s time as governor of Virginia, and some years-old missives on redistricting efforts and DNC donor outreach strategy. DNC interim chair Donna Brazile immediately tied the leak to GOP presidential nominee Donald Trump. “There’s one person who stands to benefit from these criminal acts, and that’s Donald Trump,” she said in a statement Tuesday night, adding that Trump has “embraced” Russian President Vladimir Putin and “publicly encouraged further Russian espionage to help his campaign.”

National: Court disputes over voting laws often divide justices along party lines | Los Angeles Times

It’s no secret that partisan state legislators, once in power, frequently try to alter voting laws to give their party an advantage. But increasingly, when those laws are challenged in federal court, the outcome appears to turn on whether the judges or justices hearing the case were appointed by Republicans or Democrats. Last month, North Carolina’s Republican leaders were blocked from enforcing several new restrictions on voting that had been adopted over the fierce opposition of Democrats. They included less time for early voting and a requirement that a registered voter show one of several specific types of photo ID cards. A federal judge appointed by former President George W. Bush had upheld the full law in April, deciding the regulations were reasonable. They were struck down in late July by a panel of three judges of the 4th Circuit Court of Appeals, all of them Democratic appointees, who said the new rules violate the federal Voting Rights Act because they “target African Americans with almost surgical precision.”

National: Politicians, Experts Suspect Russia of Hacking US Political System | VoA News

The controversy still rages over Russia’s possible hacking into computer systems used by American political entities. Defense Secretary Ash Carter has warned Russia not to try to interfere with the U.S. general election in November. Yet Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump says he doubts that Russia is involved. The election — the heart of U.S. democracy — is at the center of the debate. But before we tell you how … a little background. The system is decentralized. Votes are collected where people live, and then each state sets up its own security, in its own electoral system, to tabulate its votes. This method is intended to reduce fraud. So imagine the shock when the FBI told Arizona election officials that Russians had hacked into their system. Experts also blame Russia for hacking into Democratic party emails.

National: America can’t promise secure vote | McClatchy

Is it time to panic about Election Day? Not about the choices for president, but about whether the votes that millions of Americans will cast Nov. 8 will be secure. “My level of concern is pretty high,” said Thomas Hicks, chairman of the Election Assistance Commission, an independent, bipartisan group created to develop guidelines following the disputed 2000 presidential election. Experts are warning that in a year of unending political drama, still more might be in store, from Russian hackers to obsolete voting machines prone to breakdowns, all with the potential for causing considerable political chaos. … Computer security experts have long expressed concerns about the vulnerabilities of state voter registration rolls and the frailties of older voting machines. “Flipped votes, freezes, shutdowns, long lines and in the worst-case scenarios, lost votes and erroneous tallies,” is how a report last year, “America’s Voting Machines At Risk,” described the recurring problems of older machines. It was written by the Brennan Center for Justice, a nonpartisan public policy and legal research center at the New York University School of Law.

National: Hacking the election is nearly impossible. But that’s not Russia’s goal. | The Hill

Elections authorities and cyber security experts say a concerted effort to alter the outcome of November’s elections through a cyber attack is nearly impossible, even after hackers gained access to voter registration databases in at least two states. But some of those same experts say hackers with ties to Russia aren’t aiming to change election results; instead, their goal is to create a perception that the results are in question, and to undermine confidence in American democracy. “Russian tampering with elections is not new. It’s only new to the U.S.,” said Chris Porter, who runs strategic intelligence for the cybersecurity firm FireEye Horizons. He pointed to Ukraine, Bulgaria, Romania and the Philippines, where Russian-backed hackers have gained access to electoral systems in recent years.
“It’s just enough create scandal,” Porter said. “That’s sufficient for Russian aims.” Last month, officials in Arizona and Illinois discovered their voter registration systems had been hacked, a leak that put thousands of voter registration records up for sale on the black market. In January, more than 17 million voter registration records from Washington, Delaware, Rhode Island and Ohio were stolen.

National: Appeals Court Blocks Proof-of-Citizenship Requirement for Voters in 3 States | Associated Press

A federal appeals court on Friday blocked Kansas, Georgia and Alabama from requiring residents to prove they are U.S. citizens when registering to vote using a national form. The 2-1 ruling is a victory for voting rights groups who said a U.S. election official illegally changed proof-of-citizenship requirements on the federal registration form at the behest of the three states. People registering to vote in other states are only required to swear that that they are citizens, not show documentary proof. The three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia acted swiftly in the case, issuing a two-page, unsigned ruling just a day after hearing oral arguments. A federal judge in July had refused to block the requirement while the case is considered on the merits.

National: Paperless voting could fuel ‘rigged’ election claims | Politico

Voters in four competitive states will cast ballots in November on electronic machines that leave no paper trail — a lapse that threatens to sow distrust about a presidential election in which supporters of both Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton have raised fears about hackers tampering with the outcome. The most glaring potential trouble spots include Pennsylvania, where the vast majority of counties still use ATM-style touchscreen voting machines without the paper backups that critics around the country began demanding more than a decade ago. It’s also a state where Trump and his supporters have warned that Democrats might “rig” the election to put Clinton in the White House, a claim they could use to attack her legitimacy if she wins. Similar paperless machines are used heavily in Georgia, where the presidential race appears unusually close, and to a much smaller extent in Virginia and Florida, both of which are phasing them out. Florida has almost entirely abandoned the electronic machines following a number of elections that raised red flags, including a close 2006 congressional race in which Democrats charged that as many as 16,000 votes went missing.

National: Appeals court sympathetic to challenge over voter rules | Associated Press

A federal appeals court on Thursday seemed likely to side with voting rights groups seeking to block Kansas, Georgia and Alabama from requiring residents to prove they are U.S. citizens when registering to vote using a national form. Judges hearing arguments in the case considered whether to overturn a decision by a U.S. election official who changed the form’s proof-of-citizenship requirements at the behest of the three states, without public notice. The dispute is part of a slew of challenges this year that civil rights groups have brought against various state voting laws they claim are designed to dampen turnout among minority groups that tend to favor Democrats. Those challengers have already succeeded in stopping voter ID requirements in North Carolina and Texas and restrictions elsewhere. In the citizenship case, a coalition including the League of Women Voters and civil rights groups say the requirement to show proof undermines efforts to register new voters and deprives eligible voters of the right to vote in federal elections.

National: U.S. officials investigating hacking into more state election systems | CBS News

U.S. officials are expanding their investigation into the hacking of state election systems as officials believe more states beyond just Arizona and Illinois were affected, a government official has confirmed to CBS News. Law enforcement officials were summoned to Capitol Hill to brief House and Senate leaders on the investigation into the cyberattack on election systems, CBS News’ Jeff Pegues reports. Sources tell CBS News that the Department of Homeland Security will soon send out an alert to election officials across the country about the intrusions. The alert is expected to offer states specific assistance and detail preventative measures they can take to make their systems more secure. Officials declined to offer specifics, and called the investigation “highly confidential.” While U.S. officials are looking into whether Russia is tampering with the election process, FBI Director James Comey predicted Thursday that the cyberattacks won’t change the outcome of the election race.

National: Hack the vote: Experts say the risk is real | CSO Online

You should be worried about the November election. Not so much that the candidates you support won’t win, but about the risk that the “winners” may not really be the winners, due to hackers tampering with the results. Or, that even if the winners really are the winners, there will be enough doubt about it to create political chaos. This is not tinfoil-hat conspiracy theory. The warnings are coming from some of the most credible security experts in the industry. Richard Clarke, former senior cybersecurity policy adviser to presidents Bill Clinton and George W. Bush, wrote recently in a post for ABC News that not only are US election systems vulnerable to hacking, but that it would not be difficult to do so. “The ways to hack the election are straightforward and are only slight variants of computer system attacks that we see every day in the private sector and on government networks in the US and elsewhere around the world,” he wrote, adding that, “in America’s often close elections, a little manipulation could go a long way.”