Even before the coronavirus crisis pushed the idea of mail-in ballots or other forms of remote voting to the forefront of the public imagination, pundits opined that every aspect of the voting process was potentially vulnerable to cyberattacks. The adversaries are well-funded, highly sophisticated, and powerfully motivated to undermine the democratic process. They’d already demonstrated that they’re capable of disrupting presidential elections by stealing email messages and infiltrating government agencies and political parties’ networks during the 2016 election cycle. And there’s little doubt that cybercriminals are poised to do so again this year.
The fact that we’re confronting a global pandemic has only amplified the problem. In some areas, voters may be forced to choose between putting their health at risk in order to vote in person, casting mail-in ballots that some consider less secure, or being asked by their local municipalities to consider online voting options even though a majority of cybersecurity experts believe that these systems are not yet ready for widespread use. In test runs, the currently available online voting platforms have shown multiple security flaws that leave them vulnerable to outside tampering. Yet the current fight against COVID-19 is motivating election officials to press forward with their use anyway.
Despite all these trouble signs, however, we at BTB Security are cautiously optimistic about the security of future elections. Over the past few years, cybersecurity issues have received more media attention than ever before in history, so public awareness of the prevalence of cyber threats and attacks is at an all-time high. Increasing concern about the cost of breaches is driving investment in technology solutions as well as interest in better habits and practices. The better people understand the risks, the more likely they are to support the quest to find secure alternatives.
It’s also important to remember that secure online voting platforms are still in their technological infancy. Their current maturity level is akin to that of e-commerce solutions in the early 1990s, and although much work on their development remains to be done, technology innovators and members of the public are highly motivated to continue the process. In the years to come, we’re likely to see huge advances in this area.
To hear more of our future-facing perspective on today’s cybersecurity issues, visit our blog at www.btbsecurity.com/blog