Just in time for the 2016 campaign season, cybersecurity experts have sent out this dire warning, based on analysis of Virginia polls: Watch out for hackers – voting machines are easy to compromise.
The Virginia Information Technologies Agency’s Commonwealth Security and Risk Management agency issued a new report finding the machines that have been in use by the state since 2002 have weak security – so weak, in fact, that even the most amateur of hackers could break into the system, Fox News reported. The report came after one precinct in the state reported “unusual activity with some of the devices used to capture votes” in last November’s elections.
Cris Thomas, a strategist with the Maryland-based Tenebal Network Security, looked into the claims and found widespread system weaknesses.
“This means anyone could have broken into the machines from the parking lot,” he said, Fox News reported. “Our entire democracy depends on systems with minimal, easily bypassed security.”
Thomas said his agents discovered multiple possible sources for breach.
“Security deficiencies were identified in multiple areas, including physical controls, network access, operating system controls, data protection and the voting tally process,” the report stated. “The combination of critical vulnerabilities in these areas, along with the ability to remotely modify votes discretely, is considered to present a significant risk. This heightened level of risk has led VITA security staff to conclude that [a] malicious third party could be able to alter votes on these devices. These machines should not remain in service.”
Mississippi and Pennsylvania have stopped using the same machines found in fault in Virginia.
And some are calling the findings a top priority to address before the next election.
It’s “very alarming,” said Hans von Spakovsky, a senior legal fellow for the Heritage Foundation and the manager of the Election Law reform Initiative, in Fox News. “Anyone who thinks that there are not folks out here, from lone hackers to foreign governments, who are willing to exploit the security vulnerabilities of our election system is living in a fantasy world.”