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Hacking the 2016 Presidential Election

The Republican National Convention is coming up July 18-21, the Democratic National Convention will follow on July 25-28, and the political climate is tense. In particular, politicians and commentators have expressed serious concern about holding the events soon after shootings in Louisiana, Minnesota and Texas, all of which have been met with public outrage.

But while these concerns and others surround both candidates, cyber crime also looms over the upcoming 2016 presidential election, presenting a real threat to the outcome of the race.

Because we’re in the business of protecting sensitive data and tech resources, we want to explore this issue and raise awareness of the security vulnerabilities that could negatively impact the presidential race.

How Hackers Threaten the Election

Ethical hacking expert Michael Gregg, writing for Huffington Post, outlines a number of security challenges that call into question the security of the upcoming election.

Gregg, referencing a 2015 study by Verizon, points out that the public sector suffers from a higher incidence of crimeware infections than any industry sector. And more specifically relating to election technologies, a 2012 security review by Argonne National Laboratories found that election machines were alarmingly easy to hack. The state of Virginia also placed a ban on touchscreen voting machines in 2015, as the security of these devices has been called into question.

By hacking into voting machines or the networks on which they transmit data, cyber criminals could use a number of methods to rig an election. As Gregg’s article points out, the most obvious method would be to alter records on the voting machine itself. However, hackers might also shut down the machines within certain precincts or tamper with records sitting in the government databases.

Even beyond election rigging, hackers have a number of options for sabotaging presidential candidates.

Through DDOS attacks, they might shut down access to a candidate’s website, or they could vandalize the site by hacking into its servers. As the recent scandal involving Hillary Clinton’s private email server suggests, hackers could also access candidate’s sensitive information. One potential use of this information would be to “dox” the candidate, exposing personal information that could damage their political standing.

What Can You Do?

Vulnerabilities in the election system have the alarming potential to impact both politicians and the general public’s vote, highlighting the dire need for active cyber security initiatives wherever sensitive data is managed or stored. Even without sizable budgets or sophisticated internal resources, agencies can find solutions for proactive monitoring, reporting, intelligence and response by partnering with a capable managed security partner. Lunarline provides 24/7 managed security to clients in both the private and public sectors to support a complete risk management approach and minimize the threat that cyber criminals pose to your data.

You can learn more about Lunarline and how we help protect your data by visiting us at Lunarline.com or contacting one of our experts.

About Spence Witten

Spence has somehow survived ten years at start-ups and small businesses without suffering a (major) nervous breakdown. As Lunarline's Director of Federal Sales, Spence actually loves working on proposals. If there were any doubt, this is proof that he is in fact certifiably insane. While his title says "Sales" Lunarline doesn't let him off that easy. We make him do real work, too. Luckily he's a recognized subject matter expert in security policy and loves helping clients navigate their way around tricky security compliance standards. He's also been known to lead a software development initiative or two, though that pretty much always ends poorly for everyone involved. He can be reached at spence.witten@lunarline.com.