July 31, 2019

Election Security In A Nutshell

Cybersecurity is hard… but simple.

by Chris Thomas

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Alex Wong / Getty Images

If you read this blog you’ve probably never thought much about who writes it. That’s ok; we want it that way. When our team writes we want you to hear us in the voice of the ‘bot.

But this article is different. Hi, I’m Chris Thomas and I’m a cybersecurity professional who builds solutions for the power industry. It’s my job to think about how we protect critical infrastructure from foreign attack. Since #MoscowMitch doesn’t care about defending the American election system, let me teach you about the challenges we face and what we can do about it.

Americans vote, overwhelmingly, with computerized systems. I’d love to tell you that those systems are secure but they’re just not. We could make those systems more secure, especially if Mitch McConnell weren’t prepared to sell his country out for political advantage, but making them completely secure is probably impossible.

Yes, impossible.

All computers can be hacked, even ones that aren’t attached to the internet. The fundamental problem with cybersecurity is that attackers have to be right once and defenders have to be right every time. That makes defending high-value targets extremely difficult and extremely expensive, especially if those systems have to be used by millions of people on one specific Tuesday in November.

Every single one of the measures that McConnell has blocked would make American elections more secure, and given what’s at stake — literally our sovereignty — they’re all well worth the cost.

But if we want our elections to be as secure as we can make them it’s time we abandoned the fiction that computers make our elections better, safer, or more democratic.

It’s extremely hard to hack a piece of paper and a locked box.

What can I do?

It’s a long road to secure elections. The first step is getting the Senate to pass the measures that, right now, Moscow Mitch won’t even let the chamber consider. Democrat or Republican, your Senator can become part of the growing cacophony demanding action.

To write to your Representatives and Senators, send the word Resist to Resistbot on Facebook Messenger, Telegram, or as a Twitter direct message. If none of those work for you, Resistbot also supports old fashioned SMS: text RESIST to 50409 to get started. It takes 2 minutes to protect democracy. 🗳

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