The American election of 2016 was a doozy for a number of unprecedented reasons, some of which we are still learning about to this day.
In the modern, digital age, the race between authorities and criminals taking place on the cyber warfare front is a close one. As technology moves exponentially forward, it is often difficult for our law enforcement and security professionals to keep up. These digital daredevils are quite adept at tweaking and reinventing their systems in order to stay one step ahead of those attempting to thwart them.
Unfortunately, this grim reality has slithered its way into a great many aspects of our everyday lives. There have been reports of major hacking attacks at a number of well-known, and supposedly well protected corporate infrastructures including Sony Pictures, Equifax, the DNC, and even our national voting system.
How widespread were 2016 cyber attacks on election day? Nearly half of U.S. states were affected in one way or another.
“The federal government on Friday told election officials in 21 states that hackers targeted their systems before last year’s presidential election.
“The AP contacted every state election office to determine which ones had been informed that their election systems had been targeted. The others confirming were Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Illinois, Iowa, Maryland, Minnesota, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Oregon, Texas and Washington.
“Being targeted does not mean that sensitive voter data was manipulated or results were changed. A hacker targeting a system without getting inside is similar to a burglar circling a house checking for unlocked doors and windows.
“Even so, the widespread nature of the attempts and the yearlong lag time in notification from Homeland Security raised concerns among some election officials and lawmakers.
“For many states, the Friday calls were the first official confirmation of whether their states were on the list — even though state election officials across the country have been calling for months for the federal government to share information about any hacks, as have members of Congress.”
Earlier this week, we reported on one way in which states were battling this terrifying new information by returning to more archaic means of tabulating political contest results.
With social technologies continuing to invade our lives in ever more intense ways, these sort of fears will continue to be on the incline. It is just unrealistic to believe that authorities will always be able to prevent these criminals from gaining access to the sensitive data that they seek, meaning that Americans will likely need to take heightened responsibility for the risks that they assume when heading online, installing “connected” home devices, and even experiencing the pure joy of voting in a U.S. election.