Congress did not pass the bipartisan Safe Elections Act. This implies within the two years since Russian interference disrupted our election methods, we now have failed to enhance safety across the applied sciences that help our election processes.

Legislating a repair to the issue is proving futile. It’s time to ask ourselves – as residents, elected leaders, technologists and people serious about defending our democracy – what else we are able to do to enhance election safety.

A latest report delivered to Capitol Hill discovered that “election machines utilized in greater than half of U.S. states carry a flaw disclosed greater than a decade in the past that makes them susceptible to a cyberattack,” in accordance The Wall Street Journal.

Shouldn’t we view our elections by means of the lens not simply of safety, however security? Give it some thought this manner: we now have the NTSB for journey, the FDA for meals, OSHA for office security. We’d scarcely settle for 50 % of automobiles on the street to be defective or 50 % of meals on grocery retailer cabinets to be tainted.


That’s why states ought to open up voting methods and machines to the white hat hacker group. A lot of the expertise we get pleasure from utilizing as we speak, our smartphones and apps and internet-connected automobiles, is safer and safer as a result of it’s been probed by hackers to show and report vulnerabilities which are then corrected. The software program that powers the digital world, together with election methods, will be made safer by way of bug bounties that allow the hacking group to get to work.

Hackers will be exceptionally inventive, consistently pondering exterior the field. Safety consultants near a product may have made assumptions that attackers will ignore. Bringing in exterior hackers with their very own assault instruments will uncover new dangers. This is without doubt one of the clear values of bug bounty applications. Take into account, this isn’t a substitute for sound safety engineering as a part of the event course of, it ought to be as well as.

State governments ought to settle for affords of corporations to carry out penetration exams of election web sites. Election system and software program distributors, lengthy against scrutiny, danger their reputations every year they deemphasize safety. Each states and their election system distributors ought to embrace ongoing bug bounty applications that facilitate collaborative disclosure of safety flaws.

You possibly can look to the bug bounty applications of Google and Fb to see this in motion. These organizations, among the many most prolific and worthwhile corporations ever constructed, have inside safety groups which are working to safe the software program they create, however attention-grabbing bugs are nonetheless discovered by outsiders. That is the instance authorities should study from. One Google bug bounty program obtained 470 qualifying vulnerability stories previously 12 months, every with the potential to make Google software program safer.

The dangers of not opening up election software program and gear to white hat hacking are simple: attackers get entry to software program and methods and discover bugs that they don’t report. They then later exploit these bugs throughout an election.

Making bounties excessive will entice plenty of attackers who will need to report what they discover.

Briefly, extra eyes on the issues is all the time going to result in higher safety.

Our society and tradition values a safer world. Permitting these methods to be hacked, working together with election system distributors, is our most sure-fire wager towards creating safer elections. The outcomes could also be ugly at first, however we’ve skilled the choice, and nobody needs a repeat.

Chris Wysopal is Chief Know-how Officer at CA Veracode, the place he oversees expertise technique and data safety. Previous to co-founding CA Veracode in 2006, Chris was vice chairman of analysis and improvement at safety consultancy @stake, which was acquired by Symantec. Within the 1990s, Chris was one of many unique vulnerability researchers at The L0pht, a hacker assume tank, the place he was one of many first to publicize the dangers of insecure software program. He has testified to the US Congress on the topics of presidency safety and the way vulnerabilities are found in software program. He’s the writer of The Artwork of Software program Safety Testing.

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