Russia could still upend next week's election with these disturbing tactics
The United States' top intelligence and cyber security officials claim there is no evidence to suggest Russian operatives have attempted to interfere with the upcoming election as they did in the 2016 election, there are still a number of threats that could greatly impact the 2020 presidential election.
A new report has revealed multiple possible outcomes security experts have expressed concern as Election Day nears. According to NBC News. the same officials also have no way to shield every state, county, city, and voting precinct network from the threat of hackers.
Here are a few ways Russian hackers could turn the 2020 election into a political and civil nightmare:
1. Lock Down Election Computer Systems: While voting machines do not require an Internet connection to collect ballots, many cities and precincts do rely on Internet connections and ransomware attacks could greatly impact the election. If something like this were to occur in a swing state, the integrity of the election could be jeopardized, and possibly even destroyed.
Matt Drake, a former FBI election threats specialist and current Science Applications International Corporation (SAIC) defense contractor weighed in on the severity of the threat.
"We've seen an increase in the use of ransomware by folks who maybe couldn't write it themselves, but now it's available out on the black market and they can buy it," said Drake. "And it's certainly concerning that if it were launched shortly before the elections. it could be difficult for some places to overcome that."
2. Cause a Black Out: For quite some time, U.S. officials have warned that Russians have planted "cyber bombs" within America's power grid and communication systems. However, those bombs are said to be lying in wait for the moment when Russians decide to detonate. One of the most critical attacks on the election would involve causing a black out that would interrupt cell phone towers and voting systems.
"Imagine an infrastructure attack, maybe in some key precincts, or states, swing states for the election, where maybe power goes out, or maybe the 911 service goes out," said Frank Figliuzzi, the FBI's former counterintelligence chief and an NBC News contributor. "Or you can't use your credit card or pump gas. Just something that sows discord and confusion."
3. Create Voter Roll Confusion: Earlier this week, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) arrived at a Tallahassee courthouse to cast his vote for the election only to find out that his address had been changed. Incidents like this could be a foreshadow of an electoral interference that could impact swing states. The publication also offers a glimpse of a nightmare scenario in a swing state that could ultimately sway the election.
Imagine if the Russians or some other adversary deleted every third voter registration record in three Pennsylvania counties, and voters showed up, only to be turned away.
4. Raise More Doubts about Election Integrity to Sow Division: For months now, President Donald Trump has set the stage to challenge the election results and raise question about the integrity of the United States' voting practices and electoral systems. Experts also warn that Russian operatives could use social media as a tool to fuel the perception of doubt surrounding the results of the election.
5. Block Reporting of Election Results:
Following the 2018 election, Knox County Tennessee faced issues amid its mayoral primary as officials indicated that a "distributed denial of service, or DDOS, attack, shut down a county website publishing election results. The county had to mail out the official tallies." An attack like this could prolong the release of the election results in key battleground states which could ultimately delay the outcome of the election.
With so many possible outcomes that could occur, there is substantial concern about interferences in the election.
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