With primaries underway and less than four months to go until this year’s midterm elections, early signs of attack have already arrived—just as the US intelligence community warned. And yet Congress has still not done everything in its power to defend against them. At the Aspen Security Forum on Thursday, Microsoft executive Tom Burt said that phishing attacks—reminiscent of those carried out in 2016 against Hillary Clinton’s campaign—have targeted three midterm campaigns this year. Burt stopped short of attributing those efforts to Russia, but the disclosure is the first concrete evidence this year that candidates are being actively targeted online. They seem unlikely to be the last. “The 2018 midterms remain a potential target for Russian actors,” said Matt Masterson, a senior cybersecurity adviser to DHS, at a Senate hearing last week. “The risks to elections are real.”
Meanwhile, a trend of destabilizing denial-of-service attacks against election-related systems has also emerged, including one that caused a results-reporting website to crash during a municipal primary in Knox County, Tennessee, in May, along with two reported DDoS assaults on unnamed Democratic campaigns. DDoS attacks have become common enough that both Alphabet’s Project Shield and Cloudflare’s Athenian Project have been offering free DDoS protection to election-related groups, like political campaigns, state and local governments, and boards of elections.
… “We’re going to have to see what happens with the 2018 election—will there be any meddling? Will there be any things that go awry in 2018?” says Marian Schneider, president of Verified Voting, a group that promotes election system best practices. “Because to the extent that things don’t go swimmingly, unfortunately, that may be an impetus for Congress on funding.”
Schneider notes, as do many security analysts, that though election process issues are often mired in bureaucratic and political controversies, the stakes transcend party lines. “I want to underscore that this is not a political issue—it’s not partisan,” she says. “It really is a national security issue. This is about standing together shoulder to shoulder to protect our democracy against external threats. That’s what we have to do.”
Full Article: The Midterm Elections Are Already Under Attack | WIRED.