George Thiruvathukal, member of the IEEE Computer Society & Professor of Computer Science at Loyola University Chicago
George Thiruvathukal, member of the IEEE Computer Society & Professor of Computer Science at Loyola University Chicago

If we are talking about voting, the present situation is one where voting irregularities and fraud present greater risk than cyberattacks. Given that there is limited online voting, the overall system is a distributed collection of different voting technologies and systems, some still using paper. 

We've obviously heard a great deal about other ways that the election can be manipulated in recent months. For example, campaigns and parties maintain their own home-brewed infrastructure , which contain sensitive information and data that could be leaked. A key defining criterion for a secure election in general is the confidence that your vote is done (a) only once and (b) confidentially.

Online voting itself could actually help to create a more robust election system. We're able to trust even more valuable data (credit cards, bank accounts, social security info, etc.) online.

To improve security in general, not just in voting, it is becoming abundantly clear that much data and information in general is living in e-mail. E-mail as we know it is a cancer that greatly threatens security and privacy in a general sense. I never thought I would say it, but the world may well be better off with communication systems from Facebook, Google, etc. with the addition of verified identity. 

Again, we must distinguish between the mechanisms of the actual election and those involved in the overall process. Most vulnerabilities thus far have been specific to communication issues, especially the attack on the DNC servers. This is unrelated to actual voting but resulted in the leak of voter information (people affiliated with the actual DNC and Democratic voters, for example). This violates the one of the two principles: maintaining voter confidentiality.

There's a real question about whether this could really affect an election. Voter fraud and inaccurate counting of paper ballots, however, are substantial risks that may even be more risky than having an online voting system, given that we have a wealth of information on how to build secure systems, such as online banking, etc.