Cyber Security and Democratic and Fair Elections

The distributed denial-of-service attack knocked some servers offline during a local election. The situation forced Knox county to call in an outside security contractor to investigate the cause. The attack took the Knox County Election Commission site displaying results of the county mayoral primary offline during voting. The county resorted to distributing printed results during the outage.

In what proved to be a highly embarrassing episode for Knox County, they reported on Twitter: “Tonight, Our web servers suffered a successful denial of service attack. Election results were not affected, as our election machines are never connected to the Internet.”

Knox County Mayor Tim Burchett reassured voters that the attack did not compromise the vote. Election systems that can go online are far less secure than systems that are not able to connect to the internet “Although the crash did not affect the vote tallies or the integrity of the election, this is not something that should happen,” Burchett said in a statement. “I want to know what happened, and I think an independent review will help to determine that so we can move forward and work to prevent similar issues in the future.”

The mayor is legally required to ‘come clean’ about the breach as is every governmening entity and every public figure including parliament members, congress representatives, and all and any publicy appointed leaders.

It is necessary to understand the full extent of the event in order to be sure that the attack did not compromise the vote in any way. The scenarios for the consequences of false results are too numerous to list here. We would not want to see false results at any level, or mistrust between public entities and voters. Privacy violations cvould result in an IT shutdown that might lead to a lack of any election results.

The interference of voting systems is certainly possible by malicious threat actors and it is therefore imperative to beef up cyber security at local government levels as well as at national governmental and parliamentary level voting. Something to consider when we in Nigeria are coming towards an election season. The integrity of democracy hangs in the balance and honest elections must be assured, so that Nigeria really can #NigeriaDecides

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