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Experts warn hackers will breach online voting systems

As one of the world’s biggest electoral showdowns nears its conclusion over in the US, fears are growing in IT security that hackers may soon be able to affect the outcome of such a contest by breaching online voter databases.

With governing bodies continuing to utilise Internet platforms for voter registration, and hacking collectives growing in sophistication, some experts believe a serious breach of electoral data is inevitable. While Barack Obama and Mitt Romney jostle for power in America, states including Maryland, Washington, Arizonia and California have either implemented online voter registration systems already, or have passed bills proposing the move.

Groups like Anonymous meanwhile, have previously hacked networks belonging to the CIA along with a host or other major organisations, making an attack on electoral sites a distinct possibility.

“I’m somewhat surprised it hasn’t happened yet,” said Stephen Cobb, a security evangelist for ESET-North America, on US site WND (opens in new tab).

“If big, Internet-based companies like Yahoo, LinkedIn, or Sony can fall to hackers, then, yeah, big government databases and local authorities who actually administer the election process can be hacked,” said Cobb.

In Washington, experiments have even been made enabling voter registration via Facebook (opens in new tab), as authorities look to increase accessibility to the process and boost overall turnout. But as Steve Santorelli, director of global outreach for the security research group Team Cymru (opens in new tab) warns, such operations naturally run a huge risk of exploitation regardless of the security measures in place.

“Any system that is networked, especially to the Internet, is inherently vulnerable to attacks on its availability, and the confidentiality and integrity of its data,” said Santorelli.

Will began working life as a technology journalist at ITProPortal as Senior Staff Writer. He's worked as a Copywriter, then Creative Lead across video, social, email, web and print. He is currently a Senior Content Strategist at Zone.