The Hollywoodesque version of cyber voter fraud would go like this – an enemy nation state would support the candidate they felt best represents their interest. This government would possibly find ways to infuse money into the candidate’s campaign. Not content with simply influencing the election with illegal campaign funds and propaganda, the nation state would hack into our voting machines and skew the results so that the candidate they favor wins in a landslide. At this point one of two things could happen, the nation could erupt in hysterics or we’d have a president owned by another government – it all depends on the point the production studio is trying to make.
In real life the actions would be much more subtle. Cybercriminals or nation states looking to impact the results of an election wouldn’t have to actually hit enough voting systems nationwide to shift the results of the election. Instead, they only have to impact the results of a few districts as to call in to question all results. The American political system is based on a foundation of trust and belief in the integrity of our election system. Once that integrity is called into question chaos would ensue. How could we trust the results of a presidential election? How would the supporters of a losing candidate react? It is hard to tell.
During the second installment of Veracode’s Cyber Second Podcast, Chris Wysopal, co-founder and CTO at Veracode discusses how such a breach could happen, and what the potential results would be.