South Carolina has taken steps to protect the security of the electronic systems it will use in its presidential primary following reports that an alleged “hacktivist” group might try to shut down the Iowa caucuses.
The alleged threat comes as attention focuses on the Republican presidential primary’s early nominating states, many of which use online or electronic systems to compile vote counts reported by local elections officials. “Any time you are dealing with an Internet site, you have something that could be compromised,” said Chris Whitmire, a public information officer with the South Carolina Election Commission.
South Carolina employs an online system that logs vote counts entered by elections officials and posts them to the Internet. It has asked for extra vigilance from the Web providers that host the database. “But even in the worst-case scenario, if the site is compromised, we will know it. The actual results on Jan. 21 won’t be touched,” Whitmire said.
The alleged threat targeting the Iowa contest, first reported Monday by The Associated Press, surfaced in a YouTube video in which a computer-generated voice encourages viewers to “peacefully shut down” the state’s Jan. 3 caucuses.
The video purports to come from Anonymous, the group made famous this year for its cyber-attack on PayPal in retaliation for the company’s refusal to field donations for WikiLeaks.
“We are calling on you to occupy the campaign offices of presidential headquarters … and peacefully shut down the first-in-the-nation Iowa caucuses on Jan. 3,” the voice in the video says.