Network Security

Cybersecurity concerns may stop 59 million Americans from voting in 2018

The non-stop news pounding American voters surrounding cybersecurity and the United States electoral system is having a major impact with 45 percent believing the upcoming midterm election will be influenced by a cyberattack, most likely from Russia.

This steady stream of reporting on potential issues with the last election cycle started well before the 2016 election and continues unabated today has had a serious impact on the psyche of the American voter, according to a recent survey by Carbon Black . The survey found voters are not only concerned about election tampering, but even the government being able to protect the private information they put forth in order to vote.

The end result, according to the survey, is 27 percent of the 5,000 American eligible voters surveyed in June 2017 said they will consider not voting over fears that their data will not be secure. If this number holds true it would remove almost 59 million voters from the polls on Election Day in November 2018. Voter turnout in 2016 was 60.2 percent or 132 million people voted.

In addition to worrying about their own data, many of those surveyed, 45 percent, believed the 2018 election will be influenced in some manner by cyberattacks, 24 percent said now and 32 percent were not sure. The survey found that 47 percent of the people thought the 2016 presidential election was manipulated by foreign entities, with 45 percent believing Russia poses the greatest threat to the integrity of the American electoral process going forward.

Not even half of those surveyed believed their states do a good job of keeping their voting information safe with 45 percent not trusting their state with their data.

Voter distrust is easy to understand. Almost 200 million voter records were mistakenly exposed by the Republican National Committee and the federal government has a poor track record in general when it comes to cybersecurity with the Office of Personnel Management, the Pentagon and states voter registration databases being infiltrated.

Despite these issues, Carbon Black believes the U.S. government can take several steps to shore up voter confidence in their system.

“With a little more than a year until the 2018 midterms, a global policy revision regarding the usage of electronic voting machines may not be feasible without a herculean and bipartisan legislative effort. To that end, states and voting districts should work tirelessly to create an auditable system via a paper trail,” the survey stated.

Other suggestions included to not institute online voting and more resources for states to safeguard their cyber systems.

Currently 31 states allow for online absentee voting, but Carbon Black believes this is a mistake and these bodies should return to using paper ballots submitted by mail.

The survey also backed U.S. Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson's suggestion that would designating the election system as part of the nation's critical infrastructure. This would force federal agencies to take the threat seriously and commit the necessary financial resources to solving the problem and restoring trust in the system.

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