McAfee: Lack of Verified Election Websites Could Pose Cybersecurity Issues For 2020 Election

McAfee’s survey of 13 states considered “critical” in the presidential election found that 83 percent lacked .GOV validation, which verifies websites as being run by official local governments.

The cybersecurity practices of county election websites could pose a significant election security threat for the 2020 presidential election, according to new research by cybersecurity firm McAfee.

Of the 13 states projected to be “critical” in the 2020 presidential election, 83 percent of county election websites lacked .GOV validation, meaning that they have not purchased a .gov web domain and therefore have not been verified as legitimate sites by the federal government. In Iowa, that number jumps to nearly 89 percent, and in New Hampshire, 90 percent of websites lack the validation.

Security experts worry that the lack of verified websites will make it easier for malicious actors, particularly foreign adversaries, to create fake government websites and spread misinformation about voting locations and results, potentially affecting the final results out of those counties.

“Without a governing body validating whether websites truly belong to the government entities they claim, it’s possible to spoof legitimate government sites with fraudulent ones,” Steve Grobman, McAfee’s Senior Vice President and Chief Technology Officer, said in a statement. “An adversary can use fake election websites for misinformation and voter suppression by targeting specific voters in swing states with misleading information on candidates, or inaccurate information on the voting process such as poll location and times.”

McAfee’s survey focused on Arizona, Florida, Georgia, Iowa, Michigan, Minnesota, Nevada, New Hampshire, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Texas and Wisconsin, which together count for 201 of the 270 electoral votes necessary to win the presidential election. About 46 percent of county election websites in these states did not have HTTPS encryption as well, meaning that information shared on the site’s pages is not encrypted upon submission.

“In many cases, these websites have been set up to provide a strong user experience versus a focus on the implications that they could be spoofed to exploit the communities they serve,” Grobman said.

Only about 33 percent of main county websites in Arizona were not validated by .GOV, giving it the best percentage of all of the states surveyed. McAfee noted that many county websites try to make their domains easy to remember (“votedenton.org”) and may not have the resources to transition to a .GOV domain, which requires submitting evidence of legitimacy to the government.

In turn, McAfee supports The DOTGOV Act of 2020, which would require the Department of Homeland Security to support .GOV adoption for local governments with new guidance and financial support.

About the Author

Haley Samsel is an Associate Content Editor for the Infrastructure Solutions Group at 1105 Media.

Featured

  • Security Today Launches 2023 Government Security Awards

    Security Today Launches 2023 Government Security Awards

    Security Today is proud to announce the launch of the 2023 Government Security Awards. The Govies honor outstanding government security products in a variety of categories. For this year’s awards program, participants can choose from 38 different categories to enter their product(s) into. Read Now

  • Back to the Basics

    Back to the Basics

    Security is a continuous evolution of practices and procedures. The developments in technology and advancements in threats make security difficult at times. Although security from one location may look different from another location, there is a common goal applied to security measures. The common goal is protection. Read Now

  • The Top Three Security Trends in 2023

    The Top Three Security Trends in 2023

    As security technology has become more widely used, the interest in new capabilities and increased security measures has increased. As we head into 2023, these three trends will shape the security landscape. Read Now

  • TSA Breaks Record Nationally and in Washington for Firearm Discoveries in 2022

    TSA Breaks Record Nationally and in Washington for Firearm Discoveries in 2022

    Transportation Security Administration (TSA) officers in Washington detected 164 firearms in travelers’ carry-on luggage in 2022, with the majority of the firearms discovered at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport’s (SEA) security checkpoints. Read Now

Featured Cybersecurity

New Products

  • Tyco Kantech EntraPass security management software

    Tyco Kantech EntraPass security management software

    Johnson Controls, the global leader in smart, healthy and sustainable buildings, and architect of the Open Blue digital connected platforms, has released the newest version of the Tyco Kantech EntraPass security management software. 3

  • Camden Door Controls CV-603 2 Door Bluetooth Access Control System

    Camden Door Controls CV-603 2 Door Bluetooth Access Control System

    his app-based system is designed to provide ‘best in class’ security of doors and gates, with up to 2,000 users. The intuitive programming app is Apple® and Android® compatible, with easy to use system set-up, user administration, downloadable audit trail and data back-up. 3

  • Kangaroo Home Security System

    Kangaroo Home Security System

    Kangaroo is the affordable, easy-to-install home security system designed for anyone who wants an added layer of peace of mind and protection. It has several products, ranging from the fan-favorite Doorbell Camera + Chime, to the more comprehensive Front Door Security Kit with Professional Monitoring. Regardless of the level of desired security, Kangaroo’s designed to move with consumers - wherever that next chapter may be. Motion sensors, keypads and additional features can be part of the package to any Kangaroo system in place, anytime. Additionally, Kangaroo offers scalable protection plans with a variety of benefits ranging from 24/7 professional monitoring to expanded cloud storage, coverage for damage and theft. 3