Data security considerations for US election day

Election 2016 IllustrationOfficials are currently in the process of making data security preparations for the worst-case scenarios we might encounter on US election day. They are worried about possible hacking attacks targeted at voting machines, or even that someone might sabotage the power grid.

The community, however, seems to share the opinion that the simplest way to hack the election is much easier: move the sources of real information away from sight and spread disinformation.

Adam Meyers, vice president of intelligence at CrowdStrike, a well-known security company, believes the election will be influenced by DDoS attacks, additional leaks, and media targeting.

According to government officials, the scenario of someone directly tampering with votes is rather unlikely. Regardless of that, they have admitted that foreign hackers have seen some success targeting voter registration systems.

Kevin Du, Syracuse University’s network researcher, commented that the cyber-attacks probably cannot target the voting machines directly. However, they can affect the process in other ways, like temporarily bringing down online services.

Disinformation is another potential threat to the US election, since any ordinary teenager can spread false stories about polling places being closed on social media. Meyers said that the Russians are in control of hundreds of thousands of Twitter bots that could be used exactly for the purpose of spreading disinformation.

We will see how the events will unfold on US election day. But for now, DDoS attacks and disinformation seem to be a very real and viable threat.