September 22, 2017
September 19, 2017
September 18, 2017
Posted November 4, 2016
It’s enough to make you miss the “October Surprises” of yesteryear.
Gone are the days when last minute revelations could throw an unexpected wrench in the eleventh hour of a bitter presidential campaign.
Today, these factors are exacerbated by endless months of email hacks aimed at eroding candidate support and even confidence in the integrity of our democratic process. Factor in the particular dynamics of Election 2016, and it’s no wonder there’s so much anxiety about the outcome of Tuesday’s vote.
Will hackers infiltrating state elections systems alter the results of the election? Not likely.
But that doesn’t mean there isn’t cause for concern—or lessons to be learned by brands that may soon discover that they’re the real targets.
Over the last few weeks, the Department of Homeland Security has revealed that hackers have indeed compromised the voter registration systems of more than 20 states.
But it’s important to differentiate these attacks from those perpetrated on the Democratic Party and revealed through entities like WikiLeaks. While those assaults are openly designed to sow chaos, most hackers have their eyes on something else entirely.
The truth: US election results are nearly impossible to manipulate, mostly because our voting systems are so antiquated. Instead of an integrated whole, we have decentralized systems that are generally not even connected to the Internet, let alone to one another.
Many of these state systems are in desperate need of modernization. But their disconnected nature is actually by design—and this year at least, this lack of technical sophistication may be a saving grace.
So what’s the danger? Those attacks on state systems aren’t aimed at altering votes at all. Instead, their focused on stealing the identities of your customers and prospects.
In Illinois, for instance, hackers recently stole roughly 90,000 voters’ personal information—including their names, driver’s license numbers and the last four digitals of their Social Security Numbers. If there was a political motive, the data would have been altered or deleted. But that was not the case.
“Whoever did that hack really just wanted the voter data,” says Joseph Lorenzo Hall of the Center for Democracy & Technology. Why? According Lorenzo, it’s simple: Voter registration data is some of the most useful for committing identity fraud.
In other words, election system hacking isn’t likely to be a threat to democracy. But it still may end up costing your brand a bundle.
To protect yourself, it’s critical to absorb the lessons to be learned from these developments.
It may not be your patriotic duty. But it is smart business for every brand.