Cybersecurity experts are warning voters of potential election hacking by cybercriminals who are not only targeting the voting networks and technology, but voters, themselves.
According to ABC 7 Chicago, the city began experimenting with new voting equipment in February. These contain sample ballots consisting of fabricated questions and candidates as just one defense against targeted voting hacking.
The Illinois National Guard has also trained a Bloomington-based cybersecurity unit responsible for detecting and defending against cyberattacks during Election Day. This unit is in the process of training new recruits to be deployed in Washington, D.C. this fall.
Commander of the Illinois National Guard Brig. Gen. Richard Neely spoke with ABC 7 Chicago on the unit’s overall strength thus far.
“We're very confident in the team that we have that we'll be able to support this going forward,” Neely said. “What we're really trying to do is build the best defense we can.”
Additionally, 10 “cyber navigators” will ensure that each election authority’s security is intact and stable for future elections.
“We feel that we have the most comprehensive contingency plan anywhere in the United States,” Chicago Board of Election Commissioners spokesman Jim Allen said to ABC 7 Chicago.
The fears of possible Chicago election hacking stems from previous foreign digital incidents. A Russian military hacking group was accused of invading Illinois’ voter registration database during the summer prior to the 2016 Presidential Election.
Additionally, hacking organization DEF CON outlined several United States voting equipment weaknesses last summer.
Despite the heavy precautions and past history, Allen is still not yet convinced an election hacking will occur this year.
“If I gave you the keys to my house…you could take apart my refrigerator and rewire the stove and do all kinds of things if you had unfettered access and with no witnesses; that scenario is not really likely in a polling place,” said Allen.
If the election is interfered with, the state will distribute paper ballots as an alternative voting method.