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article imageHow have 186 million U.S. voter records been exposed? Special

By Tim Sandle     Oct 26, 2020 in Politics
How vulnerable is the U.S. election to fraud? With news coming in that actors in so-termed rogue states have access to voter details, and with the U.S. President flagging concerns, what does this mean for the digital age election?
Electoral fraud sometimes happens and often it is hard to prove. The process takes many forms, from tampering with ballots to seeking to affect social media, like Facebook influencers or other soical media outlets. It may not happen as often as conspiracy-theory minded individuals would like to think (the right-leaning Heritage Foundation has a list of apparent cases) , but the potential for election fraud, election manipulation and vote rigging is present, and the digital aid and popularity of social media have probably made things easier.
Will full-digital voting make things easier. Adobe CEO Shantanu Narayen thinks so, telling Yahoo! "You're going to be able to authenticate who you are and validate it and then just submit it...and I think that will make it fraud proof. That'll make it faster." Those who read Digital Journal's regular reports on cybersecurity issues may be less confident.
As an example of straightforward fraud, a row is taking place across the U.S. over postal ballots, based on views expressed by Donald Trump about postal votes being manipulated. To what extent are Trump's claims based on hard evidence? Social media companies do not think so, with Facebook pulling Trump ads that, according to Facebook, baselessly informed people they were victims of election fraud on October 26, 2020.
This leads to a second issue, which is voter influence via social media where misinformation is put up in order to disrupt the electoral process or to create voter bias against a particular candidate. Analysis of the previous election suggests that social media was influential in shaping the course of major events in 2016 (such as the investigation undertaken by the Pew Research Center).
The ability to influence opinion fits in with the an exposed U.S. voter database containing 186 million records. Looking into this concern for Digital Journal is Robert Prigge, CEO of Jumio.
Prigge tells us that: “The exposed database containing 186 million American voter records puts nearly all U.S. voters at risk of being victimized for fraud."
The implication of "leaving addresses, full names, ages, phone numbers and political affiliations exposed allows fraudsters to access any user account that was created with this information or combine it with other readily available information on the dark web to gain access to additional accounts or steal user benefits."
There are other risks, too: "In addition, fraudsters can leverage victims’ political affiliation to launch targeted social engineering attacks impersonating elected officials and spread disinformation to influence votes – threatening democracy ahead of the election. Any organization with an online presence is responsible for keeping user data secure. Government agencies must adapt to the modern fraud landscape to keep citizens safe.”
More about Cybersecurity, Voters, Voter fraud
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