It won’t take Russian hackers or a wide-scale attack to undermine the November election, cyber security experts warn. What they fear most is something far easier to pull off: Smaller, targeted attacks on a few voting systems that create widespread doubt among voters. In the age of social media, even a small cyber-attack could explode into chaos by casting doubt on the election’s integrity, experts warn. “Today we have social media, where a lie can circle the globe before the truth can reach the keyboard,” said Gregory Miller, co-founder of the Silicon Valley non-profit OSET Institute. “It doesn’t take very long for incredible chaos to break out over the presumption that something has gone wrong.” Both President Obama and the FBI have warned of possible tampering with this year’s election process. Miller says that sets the stage for potential turmoil with or without an actual attack on Election Day.
… It’s been proven time and time again that individual voting machines can indeed be hacked. Just ask UC Davis professor Matt Bishop, who co-directs the University’s Computer Security Lab. In 2007, California Secretary of State Deborah Bowen tasked Bishop to lead a team of faculty and grad students to test the security of three electronic voting systems that were being used in California. “We were able to compromise the accuracy and security of the machines fairly quickly,” Bishop said.
Bishop said potential hackers with more resources could likely do it even faster. “It wasn’t particularly hard,” Bishop said. “The students were able to do it fairly quickly. We had two-and-a-half weeks, and given access to the machines, we were able to compromise all of them completely.”
When Bishop’s team proved the systems were vulnerable, Bowen decertified the machines until additional security was added.