Threat Management, Network Security, Vulnerability Management

Security pros support Stein’s recount effort

Voting security experts have jumped into Green Party presidential candidate Jill Stein's effort to have votes cast during the 2016 presidential election recounted in three U.S. states, with one, Professor Poorvi Vora of George Washington University (GWU) contending in an affidavit that systems like those used in Wisconsin could potentially be hacked and injected with malware.

“The method of delivery of the malicious code depends on the type of scanner used. In older op-scan systems, the removable memory used to store counts also stores a computer program to print the results that can be manipulated to print different results,” Vora said in the filing. 

In newer systems also used in Wisconsin, “the removable memory also delivers software updates, and can be used as a means of delivering malicious code,” the professor said, noting that the only way to ensure the reliability of the vote is a recount by hand.

A recount is especially critical after an election cycle riddled with accusations of foreign interference. 

“Given the unhealthy interest demonstrated by foreign powers in influencing the 2016 presidential election, I believe we would send the incorrect signal if we were not to review the voter-verified paper records of the election,” Vora said. “If we review the voter-verified paper records…, it will serve as an important deterrent to dissuade potential cyberattackers in future elections.”

MIT Professor Ronald Rivest and Rice University Professor Dan Wallach as well as Philip Stark, a professor and director of statistical computing at University of California, Berkeley, were among those filing affidavits in support of Stein's initiative. The Guardian quoted Rivest as conjuring Ronald Reagan's saw, “Trust, but verify,” and cited Wallach as pointing to the hack of Iran's nuclear program that unleashed Stuxnet as proof that widespread damage could be done by hackers even if devices aren't connected to the internet.

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