Ensuring our rights and democratic process is protected

12/14/2016 05:10 am ET Updated May 10, 2017

Democrats, Republicans, Libertarians, Green Party supporters, and Independents all have to agree on one thing: It was a very “interesting” election season. Claims of “rigged elections” and alleged voter fraud are nothing new, however. They’ve been part of the political landscape, especially among conspiracy theorists, for centuries now. Nonetheless, with the introduction of technology to the democratic system comes a whole new set of much more legitimate fears, which includes domestic hacking, random data breaches, and acts of international espionage. Therefore, the need to maintain the integrity of our electoral system has arisen as a critical issue to secure the stability and future well-being of our democracy.

We've identified severe security problems in various kinds of voting equipment and software systems that are used in the United States. Some of the equipment is still in use, despite having severe problems. Much of the equipment and software that is in use for elections in the U.S. has never been subjected to rigorous independent security testing, Rollcall Reported. (J. Alex Halderman, Computer Science Professor at the University of Michigan)

A resurgence of Cold War style relations between the United States and Russia is perhaps the most alarming continuing development fueling the concern of voting misrepresentation for the federal government and local election agencies. Most recently, a group of U.S. Senators have requested a bi-partisan investigation into claims of Russian interference with last November’s election. This call for action was spurred on by suggestions that the CIA has privately confirmed a successful hack of email servers from the DNC and supporters of Hilary Clinton by Russian cyber criminals in order to influence the election in favor of Donald Trump. To be fair, it has also been alleged that Russian intelligence hacked the RNC to set forth a barrage of fake news and disreputable Tweets.

Previously, U.S. intelligence officials confirmed that Russian intelligence had also attempted to breach voter registration systems in Illinois including over 200,000 voter records. Another attempted breach linked to Russian intelligence occurred at the Democratic National Convention. Suddenly, this threat of foreign espionage breaking apart the very fabric of how our democracy elects its leaders has become very real and a matter of extreme urgency demanding the attention of government officials.

With the likelihood that nation-states are attacking our voting systems, combined with the fact that our State governments are often ill-equipped and lack the funds and expertise to thwart an advanced attack, it is clear we have a huge challenge before our next campaign season to ensure a fair and reliable election process. In order to maintain and protect one of our most cherished rights as citizens, we need state governments to be prepared and proactive in defending networks and voting systems against cyber breaches. Today’s IP-based networking and security products are so fragile, vulnerable, and complex to maintain that they work against our nation’s security.

There are technologies available that can be used to secure Direct Recording Electronic (DRE) voting machines so that hackers can't get access to the data and information. For example, Tempered Networks’ trusted IDN fabric uses what they call cloaking to make networks and voting systems default to ‘invisible’ so bad actors cannot find them. You cannot hack what you cannot see.

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