With the national election just days away, the prospect of an election-day cyberattack looms large. In an op-ed published by Bloomberg Government, Betsy Cooper, Executive Director, and Steve Weber, Faculty Director, argue that a hack on voting systems—or even the perception of tampering of voter data—could not only cause chaos in our democracy, but also could trigger a shattering of trust in the digital economy broadly.
“Ensuring the security of our voting systems is important not only because we need to protect the integrity of elections, but also because we need to reinforce the corroding foundation of basic trust in digital technologies, the hopeful and somewhat naive faith that holds up an ever-growing share of the U.S. economy,” they write.
In the op-ed, Cooper and Weber draw connections to the CLTC Cyberfutures 2020 Scenario “The New Normal,” which portrays a near-future world in the growing frequency of hacks and data breaches leads some to retreat to the offline world. “A hack—or even the intimation of a hack—on our election system could easily serve as…[a] triggering event,” they write in the op-ed. “It would touch literally every American at once and would likely be interpreted as a catastrophic failure not just of a single government agency or a single business, but of computer networks and software more generally. If we decide we need to return to paper ballots, why wouldn’t we also call for a return to in-person banking and paper record-keeping?”