Politics

US Cyber Attack: Could the latest massive DDoS attack swing the US general election

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A massive cyber attack that brought down major websites across the United States Friday night has caused some people to worry that such attack could cause chaos to the US national election.

The latest cyber attacks that hit the internet in the US, which has caused widespread service outages for major websites that include Twitter, Spotify, Reddit, Netflix and others, has sparked concern among the American voters as it coincides with talks of a rigged election.

For weeks now and recently in the third presidential debate, GOP presidential nominee Donald Trump has talked about a rigged election and it has soon become rampant among his supporters but not before he gets ridiculed by the netizens.

With the latest cyber attacks, should American voters be concerned that a DDoS attack could swing the national election?

According to the Buzzfeed, a Distributed Denial of Service, or DDoS, attack overwhelms a website’s servers with traffic from multiple sources to make it unavailable for online service. Friday’s DDoS attack is so massive that major websites in the US went down.

The outlet debunked rumors that such attack can NOT affect voters in the 31 states that allow internet voting, as the The New York Times warned.

While most of the 31 states allow online voting in the technical sense, people are not casting day-of-votes online but use email or fax in their ballots in advance. The only exception to this right are the uniformed service officers overseas.

Experts also said that it is extremely hard to hack an election in general not just online voting, and that it is “hyperbolic” that talks of a rigged election is possible. While Alaska is the only state the allows internet voting, Arizona and North Dakota only allow online voting for its citizens who are overseas. Missouri also has an online portal but allowed for voters who are in a hostile fire area.

Theoretically, it is still possible for hackers to launch a DDoS attack on a state voting portal but it will only work on voters who cast their votes on the election day. However, people overseas typically do not cast their votes on the day of the election.

Absentee voters can cast their votes a few weeks before the election and a DDoS attack would have to last for a few weeks to stymie a significant number of voters. By that time, state officials and experts will already have a solution and besides, there has been no evidence that such attack has happened.

Photo Courtesy: Pete Souza/Wikimedia

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