Tuesday, November 8, 2016

Hackers breach election systems in Illinois and Arizona

            With the election being such a public event nationwide, hackers have drawn their attention to the mass amounts of personal information being held in voter registration data systems. Both Arizona and Illinois are believed to have been tampered with. In Illinois, they counted about 200,000 records stolen by hackers. This information includes personal addresses, names, birthdates, driver’s license number and even part of their social security numbers. They reported this database to be over 10 years old with more than 15 million individual records stored. This includes records of those who may be deceased or moved to another state. The larger this database becomes the more attractive it would be for hackers to get into.
            In Arizona, officials have expressed belief that personal records were not in fact hacked; yet someone working on the inside may have downloaded a virus into the system. This then exposed an employee login and password to be posted online. The FBI was able to alert the state and get the system offline early, which reportedly, only gave access to local county version of the registration system.
            The main concern in both cases is first, is the election affected by this. How can they be sure the ballets are still true if hackers were able to access the system? The second and foremost concern is for national security. Voters, especially those who are registered in Illinois now have a fear of financial hacks and identity thief. Did the government consider the negative affects of a largely broadcasted event. It is the same with a large entertainment/ broadcasted events such as the Super Bowl; the risk of security is much higher due to the increased number of people gathered in a concentrated area as well as the even larger number of viewers who are tunes into the broadcast. During a election season, hackers can count on a high volume of information being entered and stored within a central database and then make it their target.

            When the FBI detects any suspicious activity they immediately request the state to take the system offline to prevent any further access to the records. According to a law enforcement official, The Department of Homeland Security does not at this time have any credible threats to the voting system. They have reported that a large majority of the polling machines/ systems in the U.S. are not connected to the Internet for the reason of preventing hackers from getting access and compromising the election. For the growing database of voter registration records, there has to be a better way to keep the systems up to date and condensed to only the necessary records needed for the election. If the state were to be required to keep past records, could these records be taken out of the main database and backed up into a more secured and less accessible storage space? It makes me worry, being someone who just voted for the first time, how long my records will be stored/ accessed.

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  1. Emily's blog on how hackers breached election systems really stood out to me as I was reading through the articles on our website. Much like Emily, this was the first election that I was able to cast my vote in, so I was much more involved this time around. With this election being one of the biggest upsets, it is very concerning knowing that somebody was able to breach the system so easily. Luckily the FBI was able to shut this down and prevent any issues with the election, but this is still alarming to the people affected by this breach.

    My main concerns don't come from the breach in the electoral process, but the breach of security in terms of leaked voter information. I am worried that voters may experience a possibility of identity theft with all of their information being released. Knowing that voter registration was tampered with this easily is very frightening. Had the race been closer this could have been a very important tie to skewed results. It should have never happened, but it is comforting knowing that it was fixed before the problem became a major issue.

  2. I believe Emily picked an excellent topic to write on. The 2016 Election has been an emotional and heated issue in that many factors were overlooked, such as big data scientists underestimating Donald Trump’s overwhelming victory. With that being said, one of the reason for the compromise of Illinois’ and Arizona’s voting registrations databases is that many people were fixated on who would become president in the next four years. Fine… It’s acceptable to be concerned about who would become our president-elect, but not to the extent to forget to secure our voting registrations databases. Nonetheless, I will briefly explain on how to clear this whole fiasco.

    Since two states’ databases have been exposed to hacking, the Department of Homeland Security offered cyber hygiene scans “remotely search for vulnerabilities in election systems within online voter registration systems”. It’s certainly a great way to start because finding the vulnerable points may lead and prevent to any more potential hacking although it might seem to be the exact solution. In the big data world, there’s no such thing as “100% guaranteed secure”, but we can certainly ensure MORE security for the information. Though DHS offered these cyber hygiene scans, there is stubborn resistance to this type of government intervention. It goes to the extent where some states, Georgia accusing the federal government of attempting to “subvert the Constitution”. In my opinion, we do need a little bit more government intervention in these circumstances. Since our personal information is out there and we have become so concerned with who would become our next president, we often find ourselves not giving a crap about our personal information. Like I said previously, the 2016 Election was an emotional one, but let’s hope we don’t find ourselves ever like this again.



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