Digital Insurgency

Where Surveillance, Encryption & Privacy Collide

It’s a good thing someone in our government is actually informed about elections. A report out yesterday afternoon noted the head of the NSA, during an Armed Services Committee weighed in on the possibility of US elections being hacked (and here).

During a Senate Armed Services Committee, Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., asked about the possibility that Russia “could somehow harm the electoral process” in his state and “disrupt the voting results in the upcoming election.”

Admiral Mike Rogers, head of the NSA and U.S. Cyber Command, spoke about the disparate structure with some states voting manually and others electronically.

“But is it a concern?” McCain asked.

“Oh, yes sir,” Rogers responded.

Fortunately, elsewhere in government, another top official knows how things actually work.

 “The beauty of the American voting system is that it is dispersed among the 50 states, and it is clunky as heck,’’ said [FBI Director] Comey. “A lot of people have found that challenging over the years, but the beauty of that is it’s not exactly a swift part of the internet of things, and so it is hard for an actor to reach our voting process.’’

Rogers clearly doesn’t understand how elections work. As I pointed out the other day, there is almost ZERO chance that the election could be “hacked” in any meaningful way. The FBI Director (who I rarely agree with on matters of security, privacy and surveillance) is spot on. Our election process is a giant, decentralized mess. It is largely impervious to hacking largely because it is not standardized, not centralized, and not connected. Comey gets this. That’s ultimately good because it would probably be up to the FBI/DOJ to enforce security over elections. If the NSA was in charge, we would be screwed.


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