National: Department of Homeland Security helps 33 states with election cybersecurity | The Hill

October 12, 2016

Election-day activities center on polling places and their voting machines, and this is where the public interest in vote security is most acute. Each state is in charge of acquiring and managing voting machines, and many states have different types of machines within their borders. The wide variety of voting machines used across the United States, rather than deterring hackers, actually helps empower them if they want to change the outcome of people’s votes, say many cybersecurity experts. Many voting machines are so old that modern security has not yet caught up to them. The differences among voting machines also mean that no single tactic could be employed to cause them to give misleading vote totals. Any coordinated effort to use the machines to affect voting outcomes would have to be tailored to each type of machine and would require an extensive network of operatives to be effective on a large scale. Some electronic voting machines still in use in the United States date back to the last millennium, according to a report by the Brennan Center for Justice, a liberal nonpartisan policy and law institute connected with New York University School of Law. The oldest machines have all the security of an ATM—which is to say, very little. Newer machines still are vulnerable because they provide access points for cybermarauders to inject malware that could change votes outright. Direct-reporting voting machines that offer no paper backup are the most vulnerable, states Chuck Brooks, vice president of government relations and marketing for Sutherland Government Solutions. Also, the diversity of electronic voting machines precludes any easy security fix. Few have had software updates, he says.

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