Election Security in Plain English | What You Should Know

Jennifer CaroleCyberSecurity Tips


If you live in the US, you know Tuesday, Nov 6, is Election Day. If you don’t know this, there’s no chance you’re reading this blog because that rock you’re living under is totally working. Congratulations!

There has been much discussion about election security and how cyber – using data to manage the vote – is adding risk to making sure votes are protected. The VPN we provide is merely a tiny step in a big process.

If you’ve wondered how this works, here’s a short, plain English primer to help you understand.

  1. How voting is handled is determined by each state. That is why you see different approaches to voting being discussed. Every state has their own tools and rules for voting. In January 2017, Homeland Security added a new role for the federal government to secure election my designating critical infrastructure (technology). That means the Feds will decide what tech has the integrity needed to secure elections for states that use technology. Alas, Homeland Security and the States don’t agree on this process and so both sides had to back-up and first learn to work with one another.
  2. Technology creates an ecosystem. That really means, no computer stands alone. You’ve heard of the cloud: where data is housed on a huge computer in a building somewhere. You work on your computer in your home, but most of what you are doing is in the cloud – from banking to surfing to watching videos. Computers must be connected to have real value. That means there’s data – your vote – moving from where you voted to somewhere else. Those connections create an ecosystem.
  3. Technology can be infiltrated. If you imagine this ecosystem, like a large spider web, connecting to servers and other computers, all through networks, you can imagine that leaves several ways to breach its security. It can happen at the terminal, where you vote, or at the server, where your vote it stored, or in the programs that run to manage your vote as it is counted. That means you should double check your vote. At a minimum, make sure the device is recording the vote you intended. If possible, get a receipt.
  4. Humans run the machines. Technology is only as good as the humans who run it. Tech needs to be financially supported, to stay safe it requires regular upgrades and it needs to be protected with advanced cybersecurity. This is expensive and requires rigor in staying current. Audits need to be performed regularly as well. The people running these tools need to be constantly trained and educated about new threats and advancements in cybercrime.
  5. Your vote matters. This one is simple: when it comes to using technology, there are candidates who want reform to ensure elections are cybersecure and there are those who don’t – which may or may not be associated with voter suppression. For your reference, here’s a list of the ten best practices that apply to all elections. You need to decide where you come down on this issue.

No matter what, your vote is important. We encourage you to get out on Tuesday and make your voice heard!