VoteWell.net

Vulnerable to Hackers

 

A. BEST-DEFENDED INDUSTRIES

1.     Domain registrars for entire countries in 2018-19, letting hackers spy on and change emails and web results throughout the country. The registrars succumbed to phishing.

2.     Phone calls for several years up to 2019

3.     Homeland Security in 2019, through a contractor

4.     Attacks rising in 2018

5.     Encryption hacked by NSA and Germany 1960s-2018, first seen in 1995

6.     Chinese hacked most of the biggest providers of cloud computing in 2010-2017, including IBM, 224 systems at Hewlett Packard Enterprise, Computer Sciences Corp, Fujitsu, Tata Consultancy, NTT Data, and many other firms through them, including the US Navy's biggest shipbuilder (incl. nuclear submarines), Sabre reservations for thousands of hotels and hundreds of airlines (so they could surveil all traveling executives), Ericsson telecoms, biotech firm Syngenta, which was then bought by Chinese. Hacks continued to succeed even after they were noticed and defenses mounted. They gathered hundreds of login credentials. Many hacked companies were not told, and if told they denied they lost anything.

7.     Amazon, Apple, and almost 30 other companies probably had extra Chinese chips placed on servers 2015-2018, giving backdoor access to the Chinese. Reviewers say backdoors can be hidden better inside chips which are supposed to be there.

8.     Electric grid air-gapped computers hacked in 2014, 2016-2018 (and US in 2019 Russian grid)

9.     CIA air-gapped computers in 2017

10.  NSA air-gapped computers in 2016, followup in 2017

11.  CIA in 2011-15 had "A major concern... that the Russians were collecting information from a breach of computers not connected to the Internet... The CIA had already figured out how to perform similar operations themselves."

12.  "Deloitte in 2017

13.  FBI in 2011-2016 radio encryption decrypted by Russia

14.  DoD in 2007, Jan and June 2015, 2016, so DoD pays bug bounties. In 2018, GAO staff "were able to take control of [DOD weapons] systems relatively easily and operate largely undetected." Alarms went off so often the operators ignored them.

15.  Securities and Exchange Commission in 2016

16.  OPM security clearances in 2015 (details)

17.  Mozilla in 2015

18.  General Electric/Safran aircraft engine designs hacked by China 2010-2015

19.  Boeing (jet fighters) in 2008-2014

20.  1,000 oil and gas companies in 84 countries, 2012-2014

21.  Nuclear and other companies in 2006-2014

22.  Google in 2010, 2014, so they pay bug bounties

23.  Microsoft in 2000, 2013, and can be slow to protect customers

24.  Military contractors in 2007-2010 and 2013

25.  Symantec in 2012

26.  State lotteries in 2005-2011 (CO, IA, KS, OK, WI; security director sentenced in 2017)

 

B. ELECTIONS

In 2016 all states' election systems were scanned for vulnerabilities by foreigners:

  1. "We can assume that the majority of states were probably a target... I want to make clear today on the record, it's likely that all 50 states were likely affected... Every organization is scanned a lot, sometimes thousands of times a day. What we were trying to differentiate between: we saw very concerning activity from known suspicious servers in this case... They were targeting to look for vulnerabilities... Probably tried all the states. These are the states we could see they were trying. That's right." ~US Department of Homeland Security Senate hearing at 41 minutes
  2. They attacked "in alphabetical order by state name... voter registration and election results sites... to identify and exploit SQL database vulnerabilities in webservers and databases. The FBI and DHS... noted that they had no information on how many of those attempts were successful, aside from two instances"
  3. August 24, 2016, hackers sent phishing emails to seven workers at VR Systems, which provides voter registration systems and election-night reporting. "At least one of the employee accounts was likely compromised." Then on October 27 they used VR Systems credentials to send phishing emails to 122 local election officials. If they opened it, it installed malware which opened a persistent back door into the computer. At least 10 computers were harmed (¶77b). The government has not said and may not know what the hackers did with their back door. Mueller's indictment July 13, 2018 confirms these events (¶73-77) and adds that the hackers targeted more than one election company (¶69). 2 years after the election, the press revealed that VR Systems had a common practice of remotely accessing county election systems, to troubleshoot them, up to the day before the election.
  4. Also in 2016 hackers sent emails pretending to be from another election vendor, offering "election-related products and services." The same hackers sent emails to election workers in American Samoa "mimicking a legitimate absentee ballot-related service provider." NSA does not know what they accomplished with any of these attacks.

5.     In August 2017 the biggest manufacturer of voting machines, Election Systems & Software, created a public file on Amazon Web Services with "encrypted versions of passwords for ES&S employee accounts. The encryption was strong enough to keep out a casual hacker but by no means impenetrable...The worse-case scenario is that they could be completely infiltrated right now".

6.     From August 2017 to March 2018 Georgia's election software was on the public web without passwords or encryption (pages 140-143, 153-163 of court filing, news).

7.     In March 2018 the security site CSO found on the dark web over 100 emails of ES&S workers and smaller numbers at smaller voting machine companies. They also found passwords for the accounts, though the companies said these passwords did not meet their current standards, so would have been changed. Nevertheless with valid emails, attackers can spray password variations until they log in on at least one of the accounts and install malware. Hackers share tips on the dark web.

8.     In July 2018 the FBI told Maryland officials that a local web hosting company they used for voter registration, candidacy, online ballot delivery, and election results had been owned since 2015 (or 2011) by a company financed by Vladimir Potanin, a Russian oligarch close to Putin. The manager is a Russian millionaire, Guerman Aliev, who took an American name, Gerald T. Banks. Maryland's Senate President said the FBI "weren't really anxious for us to come forward" to tell the public (quote is at 6:54 in video). FBI also told state officials in 2017 not to tell the public about foreign intrusion attempts (pages 146-151 of court filing).

9.     In May 2019 the FBI told Florida officials 2 counties' voter registration systems had been penetrated by Russia. The FBI could not say if the Russians changed the files, and only revealed anything because the Mueller Report did. The counties were Washington and one other.

10.  In 2016 Georgia, Indiana and Idaho said the US Dept. of Homeland Security tried to bypass firewalls in election systems without permission. Kentucky and West Virginia said DHS probes of their systems were not malicious.

11.  Ukraine's 2014 election results were hacked, but officials removed a virus and believe they had correct totals. South Africa's 1994 election was hacked, and officials hand-compiled the counts, as noted at right.

 

C. FUTURE HACKS

  1. "Every piece of commercial software... has hundreds if not thousands of vulnerabilities, most of them undiscovered." Over 100,000 software vulnerabilities are publicly known (besides zero-days, which are not public). Many thousands have been found by each big web company, such as Oracle, Google, Microsoft, Cisco, IBM, Adobe, Qualcomm. Over a thousand companies pay bounties for bugs. Election companies are not immune. "The potential for high-tech catastrophe is embedded in the fabric of day-to-day life" Scanning ballots will let us recover.
  2. What the FBI said about hacking emails applies widely: "we don’t have direct evidence that the server was successfully hacked. We wouldn’t, though, expect to see that evidence from sophisticated adversaries, given the nature of the adversary and given the nature of the system."
  3. CIA chief of counterintelligence said in 2019, "the Russians are a professionally proficient adversary who have historically penetrated every American institution worth penetrating."
  4. Wired says, "the average time between a malware infection and discovery of the attack is more than 200 days, a gap that has barely narrowed in recent years. 'We can’t operate with the mindset that everything has to be about keeping them out,' says Rich Barger, ThreatConnect’s chief intelligence officer. 'We have to operate knowing that they’re going to get inside sometimes. The question is, how do we limit their effectiveness and conduct secure business operations knowing they’re watching?' Accomplishing that means building networks that are designed to limit a hacker’s ability to maneuver and creating better ways to detect anomalous behavior by allegedly authorized users.
  5. Why don't these key industries filter all clickable links out of their incoming emails? Convenience? On average 4% of recipients open any particular phishing message, and 22% open at least one per year. At 4%, sending a phishing message to 30 recipients gives a 70% chance that someone will open it. Even at 1%, sending to 120 recipients gives a 70% chance that someone will open it. There is no reliable way to tell phishing emails from legitimate emails. When people think an email looks suspicious, and send it for checking, 90% are "legitimate" (p.5 Phishing 2018), which means most people cannot tell them apart. Sending them for checking simply prevents access to the 90% which are legitimate, since checkers rarely send them back. At least staff in key industries who click on a test phishing email need all clickable links removed from future incoming emails.
  6. Protect, Detect, Respond Recover. We must strengthen all four steps.

7.      The FDA recalls insecure medical devices. No one recalls insecure election machines.