Why We Aren’t Ready For 2020

Grind for September 7th
“Kites rise highest against the wind – not with it.”
– Winston Churchill

Its About Time

The Headline

Hong Kong’s Carrie Lam finally withdraws extradition bill

The Grind

After more than three months of violent protest, Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam has finally agreed to withdraw the initial cause of the protest – a bill that would have allowed the transfer of suspected criminals to mainland China.

The Details

Lam’s decision, which comes days after police used water canons against civilians, is unlikely to appease the protestors.

“Too little and too late now,” writes pro-Democracy activist Joshua Wong. “Carrie Lam’s response comes after 7 lives sacrificed, more than 1,200 protestors arrested, in which many are mistreated in police station.”

The protestors are also calling for Lam’s resignation, a democratic election for the next leader, and an investigation into police brutality.


The Headline

Cybersecurity experts warn: We aren’t ready for the 2020 elections

The Grind

This weekend at the DEF CON 27 hacking conference in Las Vegas, expert hackers had the opportunity to play around with voting machines.

They weren’t impressed.

“I’m still concerned for our upcoming election,” tweeted hacker Rachel Tobac. “This voting machine was used in Williamsburg, VA in the 2018 general election. Problem is, it’s running Windows CE 5.0 – software that is 15 years old with many down vulnerabilities.”

“These systems crash at your Walmart scanning your groceries. And we’re using those systems here to protect our democracy, which is a bit unsettling,” added another hacker.

State governments hire private companies to provide voting equipment, and there are no laws about breach disclosure or third party security auditing. In most cases, local governments are prohibited from hiring a security firm to investigate voting machines.

In August, a federal judge ordered the state of Georgia to replace its outdated electronic voting machines with new systems that provide a paper trail for added security.

The Details

The ever-changing nature of technology requires a constant effort to maintain security, explains cybersecurity expert Bruce Schneier. When asked how much election security had improved since 2016, Schneier said, “We have done absolutely nothing.”

This summer, GOP lawmakers rejected a bill that would have provided $700 million for election security. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell says voting is a state issue, not a federal issue.

“I’ll be damned if, when we’re up against the Russians and all their military and all their cybersecurity might, we’re going to send out the county IT guy,” said Senator Ron Wyden (D-OR).

According to experts, interference in 2020 is almost a certainty.
“After 2016, it’s become very clear that it is almost certain that the Russian government and potentially other US rivals will seek to interfere in the US election,” says former FEC member Daniel Weiner.

To make matters worse, the FEC is temporarily shut down due to a lack of members. The FEC is responsible for enforcing campaign finance law and preventing election interference.

Did you know… Aluminum used to be more valuable than gold!