The leaked NSA document published by The Intercept on Monday revealed a report that Russian military actors attacked one of the most especially vulnerable aspects of the American voting system: online voting registration databases. The classified document was leaked to the press by a 25-year-old intelligence contractor who has been arrested by the Department of Justice. The five-page report, which the AP has yet to authenticate, details a cyberattack that began in August 2016. The document does not reveal whether or not the Russian attempts at were successful, nor does it address if it could have affected voting outcomes in the presidential election. It does, however, validate the concerns of cybersecurity experts who have long considered the possibility of this type of attack as a potential threat to our voting process’ security.
… According to an AP analysis of the document’s contents by University of Michigan computer scientist J. Alex Halderman, the actions taken by the Russian hackers could have theoretically enabled them to “steal” votes by directly targeting electronic voting machines. Other potential attacks could have included more subtle meddling that would result in inconvenient delays. An example of this would be database deletions or errors that would require large numbers of registered voters to have to fill out absentee ballots.
Halderman has been among several experts warning of the potential for election meddling of this nature for years. They claim internet-connected voter registration databases are the most obvious vulnerability, as evidenced by targeted attacks on voter databases in at least 20 states last year.