#476 September 06, 2016 – Vulnerabilities in the U.S. Voting System

This week’s headline story: Vulnerabilities in the U.S. Voting System

evotingRussian intrusions into U.S. election systems recently have shocked the public, but computer experts are not surprised. After the 2000 election where paper-based voting systems caused confusion and controversy, many states have moved to electronic voting systems and a new set of vulnerabilities.

“There are computers used in all points of the election process, and they can all be hacked,” Princeton computer scientist Andrew Appel, told the Washington Post. “So we should work at all points in that system to see how we make them trustworthy even if they do get hacked.”

The alleged Russian hacks to voter registration systems in Arizona and Illinois exposed one of the major weak spots in election systems. Deleting or altering data on voter rolls could cause mayhem on Election Day, disenfranchising some voters. But that’s just one point of failure. Many voting machines themselves also are vulnerable.

At stake are not just the election results, but faith in the reliability and transparency of balloting, which is crucial to democracy. This is especially true in a year when allegations of voting irregularities already have been aired by politicians like Donald Trump.

Read more about how Russian hackers could actually tip an American election, using the link in the show notes.

other Technology Headlines…

  • Des Moines’ city council is trying to ‘opt out’ of ‘Pokémon Go’ [Engadget]
    Some cities are looking to “opt-out” of Pokeman Go! The City Council of Des Moines, Washington is concerned about the droves of teenagers and other players walking around idly, looking down at their phones while crowding the public spaces, making noise, littering, partaking in certain legal and illegal vices, and disrupting local business. Council members voted unanimously to request that the entire area “opt out” from the game.

in Information Security News…

  • Secret commands in online videos could hack your smartphone [CNBC]
    Hackers are experimenting with gaining illegal access to systems through the voice-command interface. They are embedding hidden audio within YouTube videos that sounds like strange background noise to the human viewer, but sounds like audio commands to voice-controlled interfaces on phones and computers.

and in Tech Industry News…

  • Google Ditches Project Ara Modular Phone Ambitions [newsfactor]
    Google has been promising to launch a developer edition of its Project Ara modular smartphone by the end of the year, but now those ambitions have apparently been shelved. Reuters has reported that Google is making an “about-face,” and taking the ax to Project Ara.


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