Iowa Election App Vulnerable To Hackers

The US media only recently  learned that the Iowa Democratic Party planned to use a mobile app to report the Democrat Presidential Candidate caucus  results in their state, but the party refused to reveal details about the app. 

Now a fault in the smartphone app used to count and report votes from individual precincts has caused a severe delay to the results from Iowa  being made known. 

A  closer look shows that the App had potentially very serious problems that, so far as is presently known, did not come into play. These problems mean the App was  vulnerable to hacking.

The Democrats didn’t publish the app’s source code for independent security researchers to inspect. Nor did they give any information about how thoroughly the app had been tested which apparently it had not been very thoroughly tested. At the time the party wouldn’t even name the vendor that it hired to develop the app, a litlle-known firm named Shadow Inc. saying that doing so could inadvertently help potential cyber attackers.

Elected officials couldn’t get answers, either. The office of Democrta Senator for Oregon. Ron Wyden asked the Democratic National Committee for details about the app three times in lead-up to the Iowa caucuses, but the requests were ignored, 

The App was so insecure that vote totals, passwords and other sensitive information could have been intercepted or even changed, according to officials at Massachusetts-based Veracode, a security firm that reviewed the software.

A lack of adequate safeguards, including transmissions to and from the phone means that data was left largely unprotected. An attack would require some degree of sophistication, but it would have been much easier to pull off had a precinct worker used an open Wi-Fi hotspot to report votes instead of a mobile phone data plan.

To date there is no evidence that hackers intercepted or tampered with caucus results.

The turmoil over counting the votes in Iowa has raised fresh doubts about the election’s integrity. The question that has been asked is was the Iowa caucus chaos is a hit job by election-meddling Russians. The morning after caucus-goers filed into high-school gyms across Iowa, the state’s Democratic Party is still unable to produce results. The app it developed for precisely this purpose seems to have crashed.

The party was questioned by experts about the wisdom of using a secretive app that would be deployed at a crucial juncture, but the concerns were brushed away. Worried about Russian hacking, the party addressed security in all the wrong ways: It did not open up the app to outside testing or challenge by independent security experts.

If the App developer, Shadow Inc. had opened up the app to experts, they likely would have found many bugs, and the app would have been much stronger as a result. An app that is downloaded onto the phones of thousands of precinct officials across Iowa, with varying degrees of phone security and different operating systems, could not be fully protected against Russian or any other hackers. 

Underground “hacks for sale" allow remote attackers to infiltrate phones, especially ones without the latest system updates, as is the case for many Android phones. 

Creating a more hardened phone network is possible, but that would require issuing secure phones to every official, and providing training and technical support. There is no indication that any of that was done.Even without a more substantial reform of the complex and demanding caucus process, a simple adversarial confirmation system, which is a process used by many countries, would have worked well.

The US has experienced previous difficulties with obsolete election technology. The National Academy of Sciences released a lengthy report about it last year, complete with evidence-based recommendations for every step of the electoral process. 

The US Department of Homeland Security offered to test the app for the Iowa Democratic Party, but the party never took the government up on it, according to a US official familiar with the matter who was not authorised to speak publicly. The official said the party did participate in a dry run, known as a tabletop exercise.  
 

DefenseOne:       ProPublica:        The Intercept:

You Might Also Read:

Foreign Cyber Intrusions On The USA:

 

« Preparing Your Employees & Business Systems For A Cyber Attack
Leaked Report: The United Nations Was Hacked »

Perimeter 81

Directory of Suppliers

DigitalStakeout

DigitalStakeout

A simple and cost-effective solution to monitor, investigate and analyze data from the web, social media and cyber sources to identify threats and make better security decisions.

eBook: Practical Guide to Security in the AWS Cloud

eBook: Practical Guide to Security in the AWS Cloud

AWS Marketplace would like to present you with a digital copy of the new book, Practical Guide to Security in the AWS Cloud, by the SANS Institute.

CSI Consulting Services

CSI Consulting Services

Get Advice From The Experts: * Training * Penetration Testing * Data Governance * GDPR Compliance. Connecting you to the best in the business.

XYPRO Technology

XYPRO Technology

XYPRO is the market leader in HPE Non-Stop Security, Risk Management and Compliance.

Perimeter 81

Perimeter 81

Perimeter 81 is a Zero Trust Network as a Service designed to simplify secure network, cloud and application access for the modern and distributed workforce.

IT Governance

IT Governance

IT Governance is a leading global provider of information security solutions. Download our free guide and find out how ISO 27001 can help protect your organisation's information.

WEBINAR: How To Build A Security Observability Strategy In AWS

WEBINAR: How To Build A Security Observability Strategy In AWS

Thursday, Apr 22, 2021 - Join this webinar to learn how to build a security observability strategy in AWS, covering cloud-native monitoring sources, guardrails, and automation capabilities.

BackupVault

BackupVault

BackupVault is a leading provider of completely automatic, fully encrypted online, cloud backup.

F-Secure

F-Secure

F-Secure defends enterprises and consumers against everything from opportunistic ransomware infections to advanced cyber attacks.

Security of Things World

Security of Things World

Exploring Security and the Internet of Things. A world class event focused on the next information security revolution.

Secmentis

Secmentis

Secmentis is a cyber security consultancy specializing in penetration testing, threat intelligence, and proactive defense for your IT infrastructure.

Egis Technology

Egis Technology

Egis specializes in the IC design, research and development, and the testing and sales of capacitive fingerprint sensor.

Janrain

Janrain

Janrain's Customer Identity and Access Management Platform helps companies build a unified view of their customers across all devices.

SEPPmail

SEPPmail

SEPPmail is a patented e-mail encryption solution to secure your electronic communication.

Naukrigulf

Naukrigulf

Naukrigulf.com is one of the fastest growing job sites in the Gulf, with thousands of registered job seekers and a robust CV database across many sectors, including cybersecurity.

Naviko

Naviko

Nakivo provides fast, reliable, and affordable VM backup, replication, and disaster recovery solutions for VMware, Nutanix AHV, AWS EC2.

Tangible Security

Tangible Security

Tangible employs the most sophisticated cyber security tools and techniques available to protect our clients’ sensitive data, infrastructure and competitive advantage.

HMS Networks

HMS Networks

HMS stands for Hardware meets Software. Our technology enables industrial hardware to communicate and share information with software and systems.