A population that is fearful of interference in ways they might not necessarily understand is more vulnerable to manipulation through disinformation strategies. This is particularly true of election security as we enter the last few months of the 2020 Presidential election. A tweet of a voting machine that “looks like” it’s infected by ransomware could be as effective at deterring voter turnout and confidence as the real deal, which is a cost-effective and asymmetric means to manipulate election results.
A key goal of many disinformation campaigns is to curb the number of people who turn out to vote at polling locations, effectively influencing the vote in favor of the attacker. These campaigns are far more impactful when they are tied to issues that the population is already concerned about, and the current uproar around the Coronavirus could be a major issue harnessed by bad actors wanting to disrupt the election process.
As always, it’s important voters make sure they’re getting their news and updates from legitimate outlets and verified social handles, and that organizations are continually providing accurate updates to reassure everyone that it is safe to vote. Regardless of what voters read on the internet, the only way to ensure the credibility of the election is to go out and vote.
If there is any attack or confusion with the voter registration systems, it’s important for Americans to know that provisional voting (with a government ID) is a fundamental right, and not to allow any system issues or confusion prevent them from casting their ballot.
In a climate where most voters share concerns about cyber-interference with the election process, any flaw in the voting process can have a significant impact. As we saw following the Iowa caucuses – with technology playing a larger role in the voting process – any issue can have an outsized impact on voter confidence.
With this in mind, vulnerability disclosure and management have quickly become an essential part of the current election cycle to ensure the providence of any software which is integrated into upcoming state caucuses. However, on top of actually ensuring the security of these systems, communicating this security to the voting public is just as important – which provides a simple to understand explanation important. Unlike most other security measures, the concept of “neighborhood watch for the internet” is simple to explain, even to a non-technical voter.
Transparency is what voters are looking for from the election process, and general trust in the process is shaky right now. Trust is critical; if voters don’t trust the process, who’s to say they won’t go vote? To ensure the integrity of the upcoming elections, it’s vital for election officials to be transparent and take the necessary steps to ensure that voting infrastructure is appropriately protected.