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Election 2020: 9 Ways Cybercriminals Are Trying to Steal Your Vote

The election systems of countries around the world are not as secure as they should be.

Edward Gately

October 19, 2020

10 Slides

It’s the big question on everyone’s mind during Election 2020: Is my vote safe?

With voting already well under way, cyberattackers are working overtime to stop election workers from counting votes and to taint election results. Therefore, everyone’s worried if criminals will prevent accurate vote counts and impact the results of the Nov. 3 General Election.

Jerry Ray is COO of SecureAge.

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SecureAge’s Jerry Ray

“Whatever the pathway or intended target within the realm of candidates, platforms, parties, voters and voting infrastructure, the most inevitable and effective cyberattacks will be subtle, unnoticed, misattributed and masked within the culture of doubt and suspicion cast upon the election for the sake of either plausible deniability by the victors or grounds for dispute by the vanquished,” he said. “With only a fraction of a percent of the voting population able to determine the outcome, the attackers need only work in the margins and against those least able to defend themselves or least likely to notice.”

Multitude of Motivations

All manner of reasons can motivate a ransomware attack on a political organization in the runup to an election. That’s according to Doug Matthews, Veritas’ vice president of enterprise data protection and compliance. Political hacktivists may carry out election attacks. And they may believe there’s a moral imperative to stop an opposing candidate.

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Veritas’ Doug Matthews

“Or they’re purely financially motivated, where hackers believe organizations under the pressure of a voting deadline will be more likely to pay up,” he said. “Regardless of the motivation, a ransomware attack can be devastating to an organization. So political bodies must be acutely aware of and prepared for ransomware.”

Adam Levin is chairman and founder of CyberScout, and author of “Swiped: How to Protect Yourself in a World Full of Scammers, Phishers, and Identity Thieves.“

The election systems of countries around the world are not as secure as they should be, he said. And they don’t include defense against the kinds of bot-driven disinformation that increasingly decides outcomes.

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CyberScout’s Adam Levin

“We should continue to do everything in our power to ensure the integrity of the vote, which means proper funding and training for election systems and staffing,” Levin said.

Voters Don’t Necessarily Need to Worry

U.S. electoral systems are resilient, Ray said. Moreover, they can combat malicious activities related to voting infrastructure.

“While voters don’t necessarily need to be concerned about the security of the election, such as votes being manipulated or concerns over mail-in-ballots, the threat of misinformation will continue to be strong during and past a definitive election result,” he said. “ Recently, many networks and social media channels have taken steps to stop the spread of misinformation. These are strong steps in the right direction from the tech world.”

Many of the lessons learned from this election cycle will set precedent for future elections at all levels.

Our slideshow above shows nine ways cybercriminals are targeting the election.

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About the Author(s)

Edward Gately

Senior News Editor, Channel Futures

As news editor, Edward Gately covers cybersecurity, new channel programs and program changes, M&A and other IT channel trends. Prior to Informa, he spent 26 years as a newspaper journalist in Texas, Louisiana and Arizona.

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