Technology is currently interwoven within pretty much every aspect of our daily lives and while there might be a lot of positive sides to that, there are also a number of potential negatives. Normally, the main issue with having everything automated is the fact that wrongdoers have a greater opportunity to cause problems, especially when it comes to systems that haven’t been thoroughly secured. And unfortunately, system security seems to be a lesser concern of a lot of tech developers – something that should certainly not be the case.
Vulnerable German voting machines
The white hacker organization that goes under the name of Chaos Computer Club (CCC) has recently reported the discovery of a large number of vulnerabilities within the PC-Wahl system that is the predominantly used software for German elections. The machines that run on the PC-Wahl can easily get hacked by an online criminal which would allow the latter to mess with the settings of the voting machine and even alter the voting results as they see fit. Obviously, the consequences from such a potential attack could be dire, especially if no one finds about the fact that there has been an illegitimate intervention from a hacker.
According to the researchers from CCC, the number of system weaknesses is beyond their worst expectations as basic principles of cyber security seem to have been omitted and disregarded within those voting systems. This means that the current PC-Wahl system is really that vulnerable and susceptible to attacks. Here, it ought to be noted that voting machines that run on this system are the most commonly used ones in Germany and with the upcoming German elections, this issue should certainly be addressed as soon as possible.
Action needs to be taken
Sure enough, the Chaos Computer Club organization has informed the German authorities regarding the new discovery and some states have already taken precautions towards securing the upcoming elections. For example, the German state of Hasse has introduced a regulation where the sections where the voting is done using PC-Wahl would have to have the results verified by an independent channel in order to assure that the the voting hasn’t been illegally interfered with. Other states would also need to take some sort of precaution measures or else they would risk having rigged elections.
Similar issues in other countries
Such voting machine vulnerabilities aren’t exclusive for Germany. In fact, there are quite a lot of countries out there that seem to have the same problem with voting security. For example, in the beginning of the current year, a Dutch researcher discovered that a cyber-related security flaw was present in the Dutch elections system as well.
One other famous example were last year’s president elections in the USA where numerous hacker attacks were reported. Some even speculate that a number of the attacks might have actually been successful (though this is nothing but an assumption). However, in a recent DEFCON security conference in the USA, researchers were able to make short work of the American voting machines, hacking them with ease.
In conclusion, even though for a number of reasons it might seem as a good idea to use technology when it comes to voting, this method ought to only be implemented in case the developers of the voting hardware and software have made sure to provide adequate security measures in order to ensure that no illegal interference could occur. Unfortunately, elections aren’t the only aspect where less-than-secure technology is being used as there are many other areas where the basic cyber-security standards seem to be disregarded leaving the technology vulnerable and easily-hackable.