U.S. cyber security professionals say suspected foreign hackers who recently attacked computer systems of the Democratic Party could do something even more sinister in the future. The cyber pros, who appeared on this week’s Hashtag VOA program, said U.S. electronic voting systems are likely to be among the next targets. When the whistle-blowing website WikiLeaks published leaked emails of the U.S. Democratic National Committee last month, it caused major embarrassment to the party, and forced U.S. Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz to quit her position as the DNC chairperson. Cybersecurity analyst Richard Forno said that outcome shows foreign hackers can achieve political goals and incentivizes them to escalate their attacks.
“Interfering with the electoral and political process of countries is a classic tool of intelligence and foreign policy,” said Forno, who directs the University of Maryland’s Center for Cybersecurity. “Even though we are moving toward an era of electronic and technology-enabled voting in more places, this [DNC cyberattack] reinforces the fact that the traditional threats are still with us, and are now moving further into cyberspace.”
Electronic voting machines are part of that cyberspace. The vast majority of U.S. states will use them for this November’s national elections. But a 2015 study by New York University found that 43 of those states had machines that were at least a decade old.
Could they be hacked as well? Cyber security pros attending an annual Las Vegas conference known as Black Hat think so.