Jones on "Not Just Ballots: Tennessee Hack Shows Election Websites Are Vulnerable, Too"

Thursday, May 17, 2018 - 9:19am

'Malicious cyber actors shut down the county website and broke into the web server, according to county officials and a report done by the cyber security firm Sword and Shield. [..]'

'Any web server by definition, is connected to the internet, so it's directly vulnerable to attacks from the internet,' said Doug Jones, an elections cyber security expert at the University of Iowa.

It's unclear who conducted the attack in Tennessee, or why. IP addresses related to the attack were mapped back to computers in the United Kingdom and Ukraine, but Jones says attackers are adept at masking the actual location they're attacking from by breaking into remote computers and using them nefariously.

Elections websites can be especially vulnerable targets in voting districts that are more rural than Knox County, Jones says, because those counties often don't have the resources to adequately monitor and secure their sites.

'It's really unlikely that there isn't some vulnerable county out there and the first thing an attacker would do would be start probing all the county election offices and finding the ones that are weak,' Jones said, before adding that elections are often far down the priority list for governments.'

'If you're a county administrator and you have a county-run public health program, and a county election office and you have a choice between funding a homeless shelter and funding an election office, which are you going to do?' Jones said."

Unabridged NPR piece can be found here.

Click here for "developing" media coverage of Professor Jones and voting security.