Venafi announced the results of a survey of 296 IT security professionals on electoral process cyber attacks. The survey was conducted July 22-27, 2017, at the Black Hat conference in Las Vegas.

According to the survey, IT security professionals believe the effects of cyber attacks on elections go beyond diminishing confidence in the democratic process. Seventy-eight percent of the respondents said they would consider it an act of cyber war if a nation-state was found to have hacked, or attempted to hack, another country’s election.

Intelligence agencies have determined that nation-states have already targeted elections globally, including in the U.S. A report from the National Security Agency (NSA) recently revealed that Russia launched a cyber attack on VR Systems, an election systems provider, prior to the 2016 U.S. presidential election.

“The definition of an act of war is an action by one country against another which is an immediate threat to peace," said Jeff Hudson, CEO of Venafi. “An attempt at election hacking could easily be considered an act of cyber war. The intent is to undermine the foundation of government, which is responsible for protecting the country. Elections are being targeted by cyber attacks, and the potential repercussions of election hacking cannot be understated. Malicious actors have the ability to alter voting databases, delay vote counts and subvert trust in the election process.”

Additional findings from the Venafi survey include:

  • Eighty-eight percent believe governments have not done enough to deter hackers from interfering with future elections.
  • Sixty percent are concerned that cyber attackers can alter election results.
  • Over a quarter (twenty-seven percent) believe attackers have already altered election results.

Voting machines are lucrative targets for cyber criminals and nation-state attackers, and unfortunately, many of them have vulnerabilities that can be easily exploited by these bad actors. For example, attendees at DEF CON 2017 managed to find and take advantage of vulnerabilities in five different voting machine types within 24 hours.

For more information on the dangers of voting machine vulnerabilities and election cyber attacks, please visit: https://www.venafi.com/blog/voting-machine-hacks-attacks-on-ssl-and-certificate-trust-may-break-elections.