Over 15 Million People May Not Vote on Election Day Due to Cybersecurity Doubts

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It took a Princeton University computer science professor just seven minutes to hack a voting machine he bought online for $82 by replacing four socketed read-only memory (ROM) chips that weren’t soldered onto the board with four of his own chips with modified firmware that could change the vote tallies from the machine. Similar machines are used for voting in Louisiana, New Jersey, Virginia and Pennsylvania, among other states, according to an August report at Politico.

In late August, the FBI was investigating a hack into election systems’ databases used in Illinois and Arizona to maintain voter records. The investigators suspect hackers based outside the United States are responsible.

According to Carbon Black, which makes an endpoint security platform, it is reports like these that raise doubts about the security of the U.S. elections system and may result in more than 15 million Americans not voting in the coming November elections. Carbon Black is a privately held company based in Massachusetts that has received investments from top-tier venture capital firms like Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers and Sequoia Capital.

Earlier this month the firm surveyed 700 U.S. voters and on Thursday posted these results:

  • More than half of U.S. voters (56%) are concerned that this year’s election will be affected by hacking/cyber attack.
  • More than half of U.S. voters (58%) said it’s likely electronic voting machines could be hacked during the election.
  • More than one-third of voters (36%) feel their voting information is insecure.
  • 1 out of every 5 voters who said their voting information is insecure will consider not voting in this year’s election given their concerns – amounting to more than 15 million voters potentially staying away from the polls over cybersecurity concerns.
  • Voters believe a U.S. insider threat (28%), Russia (17%) and the candidates themselves (15%) pose the biggest risks when it comes to hacking the 2016 election.

As Carbon Black notes, “If voters lose trust in the voting process, our democracy may be at risk.”

The full report is available at the Carbon Black website.