By KATE BRUMBACK
ATLANTA (AP) — Electronic voting machines from a leading vendor used in at least 16 states have software vulnerabilities that leave them susceptible to hacking if unaddressed, the nation’s leading cybersecurity agency says in an advisory sent to state election officials.
The U.S. Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Agency, or CISA, said there is no evidence the flaws in the Dominion Voting Systems’ equipment have been exploited to alter election results. The advisory is based on testing by a prominent computer scientist and expert witness in a long-running lawsuit that is unrelated to false allegations of a stolen election pushed by former President Donald Trump after his 2020 election loss.
The advisory, obtained by The Associated Press in advance of its expected Friday release, details nine vulnerabilities and suggests protective measures to prevent or detect their exploitation. Amid a swirl of misinformation and disinformation about elections, CISA seems to be trying to walk a line between not alarming the public and stressing the need for election officials to take action.
CISA Executive Director Brandon Wales said in a statement that “states’ standard election security procedures would detect exploitation of these vulnerabilities and in many cases would prevent attempts entirely.” Yet the advisory seems to suggest states aren’t doing enough. It urges prompt mitigation measures, including both continued and enhanced “defensive measures to reduce the risk of exploitation of these vulnerabilities.” Those measures need to be applied ahead of every election, the advisory says, and it’s clear that’s not happening in all of the states that use the machines.
University of Michigan computer scientist J. Alex Halderman, who wrote the report on which the advisory is based, has long argued that using digital technology to record votes is dangerous because computers are inherently vulnerable to hacking and thus require multiple safeguards that aren’t uniformly followed. He and many other election security experts have insisted that using hand-marked paper ballots is the most secure method of voting and the only option that allows for meaningful post-election audits.
“These vulnerabilities, for the most part, are not ones that could be easily exploited by someone who walks in off the street, but they are things that we should worry could be exploited by sophisticated attackers, such as hostile nation states, or by election insiders, and they would carry very serious consequences,” Halderman told the AP.
Concerns about possible meddling by election insiders were recently underscored with the indictment of Mesa County Clerk Tina Peters in Colorado, who has become a hero to election conspiracy theorists and is running to become her state’s top election official. Data from the county’s voting machines appeared on election conspiracy websites last summer shortly after Peters appeared at a symposium about the election organized by MyPillow CEO Mike Lindell. She was also recently barred from overseeing this year’s election in her county.
One of the most serious vulnerabilities could allow malicious code to be spread from the election management system to machines throughout a jurisdiction, Halderman said. The vulnerability could be exploited by someone with physical access or by someone who is able to remotely infect other systems that are connected to the internet if election workers then use USB sticks to bring data from an infected system into the election management system.
Several other particularly worrisome vulnerabilities could allow an attacker to forge cards used in the machines by technicians, giving the attacker access to a machine that would allow the software to be changed, Halderman said.
“Attackers could then mark ballots inconsistently with voters’ intent, alter recorded votes or even identify voters’ secret ballots,” Halderman said.
Halderman is an expert witness for the plaintiffs in a lawsuit originally filed in 2017 that targeted the outdated voting machines Georgia used at the time. The state bought the Dominion system in 2019, but the plaintiffs contend that the new system is also insecure. A 25,000-word report detailing Halderman’s findings was filed under seal in federal court in Atlanta last July.
U.S. District Judge Amy Totenberg, who’s overseeing the case, has expressed concern about releasing the report, worrying about the potential for hacking and the misuse of sensitive election system information. She agreed in February that the report could be shared with CISA, which promised to work with Halderman and Dominion to analyze potential vulnerabilities and then help jurisdictions that use the machines to test and apply any protections.
Halderman agrees that there’s no evidence the vulnerabilities were exploited in the 2020 election. But that wasn’t his mission, he said. He was looking for ways Dominion’s Democracy Suite ImageCast X voting system could be compromised. The touchscreen voting machines can be configured as ballot-marking devices that produce a paper ballot or record votes electronically.
In a statement, Dominion defended the machines as “accurate and secure.”
Dominion’s systems have been unjustifiably maligned by people pushing the false narrative that the 2020 election was stolen from Trump. Incorrect and sometimes outrageous claims by high-profile Trump allies prompted the company to file defamation lawsuits. State and federal officials have repeatedly said there’s no evidence of widespread fraud in the 2020 election — and no evidence that Dominion equipment was manipulated to alter results.
Halderman said it’s an “unfortunate coincidence” that the first vulnerabilities in polling place equipment reported to CISA affect Dominion machines.
“There are systemic problems with the way election equipment is developed, tested and certified, and I think it’s more likely than not that serious problems would be found in equipment from other vendors if they were subjected to the same kind of testing,” Halderman said.
In Georgia, the machines print a paper ballot that includes a barcode — known as a QR code — and a human-readable summary list reflecting the voter’s selections, and the votes are tallied by a scanner that reads the barcode.
“When barcodes are used to tabulate votes, they may be subject to attacks exploiting the listed vulnerabilities such that the barcode is inconsistent with the human-readable portion of the paper ballot,” the advisory says. To reduce this risk, the advisory recommends, the machines should be configured, where possible, to produce “traditional, full-face ballots, rather than summary ballots with QR codes.”
The affected machines are used by at least some voters in at least 16 states, and in most of those places they are used only for people who can’t physically fill out a paper ballot by hand, according to a voting equipment tracker maintained by watchdog Verified Voting. But in some places, including all of Georgia, almost all in-person voting is on the affected machines.
I won’t accept the election results of any state using Dominion voting machines as legit, whatever they’re result.
Eric “Trump won’t win, I made f*cking sure of that” Coomer should be in jail.
It was vulnerable in 2016 by design and most likely in many elections previous to that.
The only way to insure free and fair election is to return tho paper balloting and hand counting.
Democrats and the democrat party cheat.
Don’t worry about those machines that were found to be linked to the internet. Nothing to see here, no one would dare be such a scumbag as to use that link to change tabulations. Nah.
Voting Software Vulnerable in Some States for $500
Alex: What is Arizona, Wisconsin, Michigan, Pennsylvania and Georgia?
HUGE: CISA Releases Much-Anticipated Report on Dominion Voting Machines – Reveals Software Is Exploitable and Attackers Are Able to Insert Malicious Code to Alter Results
CISA released its much-anticipated report on Dominion Voting Machines on Friday afternoon before the weekend.
Last Saturday, CNN admitted that Dominion Voting Machine Software has flaws that can be exploited.
Federal authorities finally admitted to this truth last Saturday during the long holiday weekend.
The same officials who did not inspect the machines after the election told CNN that there is no evidence that the machines were tampered with.
The Gateway Pundit has been reporting on Dominion for two years now. It appears officials are finally catching up on something we already knew.
The report shows that software could be leveraged by an attacker to gain elevated privileges and to install malicious code.
Holly Kasun Official Admission that Voting Systems Are Vulnerable
Eric Greitens – Major Vulnerabilities In the Machines