With news breaking last night that the Russian government tried to hack voter registration files and/or public election sites in 21 different states, I can’t help but question the confidence that the Department of Homeland Security has in saying that Russia wasn’t actually successful.
After all, there is absolutely no way the Russian Government would hack into an election system unless they were confident that they could make it appear as though they never really did, right? So how do we know they didn’t? Isn’t it safe to assume that they may have?
I’m not a hacker, but I have run companies in the past which have been hacked quite substantially. In fact, we’ve had criminal hackers breach into our systems, take part in criminal activity and then completely make it look as though nothing had ever happened. This all happened while we had tight firewalls and anti-virus/trojan software put in place.
Immediately, when I heard about the breaching of voter registration files and public election sites by hackers working with the Russian Government, an alarm bell went off in my head. I instantly began researching the ease in which hackers could breach a system, change data and then exit the system making it look as though nothing had ever happened. What I found, not only surprised me, but it also scared the crap out of me. A simple google search will present you with all sorts of tools, documentation and how-to-guides on how to hack a target system, leaving no sign of an attack behind. If this is possible, why should we assume that Russian hackers weren’t knowledgeable enough to do this? We shouldn’t!
We all know that Russia was behind pushing fake news and propaganda in favor of candidate Donald Trump. What if, instead of being Russia’s first-level offense in ensuring that Trump win the election, the dissemination of bogus news stories targeting Hillary Clinton was a secondary action taken in addition to actually changing voter rolls, removing certain individuals from voter registration systems and ultimately directly affecting the vote?
Think about it for a moment. Without spreading fake news, which was aimed at making Hillary Clinton lose her standing among the American people, the direct hacking of our election system would not be believable in the eyes of the country. However, when you combine the two, suddenly the idea that Donald Trump could prevail over Hillary Clinton, should the results of the election be affected through limiting those who could actually cast a vote, or through actual ballot changes, becomes believable.
I’m not willing to say that I believe Russia played an even larger role in manipulating the outcome of the election than the confirmed dissemination of misleading news stories, but I am stern in saying that I believe it is entirely possible that Russia could have actually hacked our election systems without DHS realizing it. Election systems which are connected to the internet are never a good idea, and hopefully states and federal government learn from their mistakes. I’m sure investigations into potential breaches in these 21 states will continue, and perhaps eventually show that my opinion may not have been all that far off.
What do you think? Are you willing to entirely rule out the idea that Russia could have actually hacked our elections? Discuss in the comments section below. Follow me on Twitter at @EdKrassen.