Experts Fear Voting Machines Already Infected with Malware

Mid-term elections are right around the corner in the US, and the next US presidential election is only two years away. Although little has been done to improve election security since the 2016, tech companies and the FBI’s newly established, Foreign Influence Task Force are among the entities looking at ways to protect the electoral process and ensure the integrity of the voting system.

Obviously, besides tracking accounts on Twitter and scanning the web for trolls, a first step should be modernizing the system itself by purchasing voting machines based on more recent technology. Most of the voting machines employed today are so old that they are no longer manufactured, which means no updates or patches, and more weaknesses. Louisiana, for example, had planned to invest $95 million in new voting machines but the contract was voided. Louisiana’s Secretary of State said Gov. John Bel Edwards’ political agenda was what led to the cancellation of bringing in some 20,000 new machines to replace the old ones dating back to 2005.

At a press briefing on election security, FBI Director Christopher Wray said counterintelligence, cyber, criminal and counter-terrorism teams in the Bureau are working together to detect any foreign operations that could jeopardize the voting process.

“There’s a clear distinction between activities that threaten the security and integrity of our election systems, and the broader threat from influence operations designed to influence voters,” Wray said.

Voting accuracy has been a subject of concern, and rumors have it that Russia has already meddled with upcoming elections by infecting voting machines with malware. There’s no strong evidence to confirm this, but Russian operatives are known to go after key individuals and launch spear-phishing attacks to steal critical information and scout for vulnerabilities in smart and mobile devices they can later manipulate.

Would training people to protect themselves against phishing attacks help? Would checking voter identity through multiple-factor authentication reduce fraud and multiple votes? What about reverting back to paper ballots to authenticate votes? There are several possibilities, but federal and state governments have to work together to increase integrity and ensure election security.

*** This is a Security Bloggers Network syndicated blog from Bitdefender Labs authored by Luana Pascu. Read the original post at: https://labs.bitdefender.com/2018/10/experts-fear-voting-machines-already-infected-with-malware/