The darknet is known to be a vibrant underworld marketplace for all manner of illegal and legal products and services.
The current proceedings on this dark web marketspace reveal that an insurmountable quantity, leaning towards the millions of confidential American voter information has been in the epicenter of most darknet transactions.
This rather curious case has led many, including state front liners, to question the state of election security.
Archived reports show that in as of December 2019, slightly less than a year before elections, individuals have been able to purchase voter information. This includes bits like registration and personal data from twenty-seven states.
The file is believed to contain detailed information of over 80 million citizens.
How Much of a Threat is the Darknet?
Darknet market hosted on Tor attract a decent level of anonymity, not available on standard web browsers such as Google and Yahoo. One of the markets where this information is going for sale is Apollon, currently suspected of pulling an exit scam.
As confirmed by a statement from the lead cybersecurity strategist Tom Kellerman, sin order to make the electoral process as seamless as possible, it was essential for the government to put in place such transparent policies to avail the voter information to the public.
However, the Waltham-based cybersecurity strategist added that the implications of having such overwhelming quantities of voter data lingering around in the dark web could, could have consequences.
On the lighter note, this could be a means to steal millions of peoples' identities. On a more worrisome note, this could be an act motivated by the need to compromise the sanctity of the elections by manipulating the information.
The strategist stated that many electoral systems are somewhat outdated and quite penetrable. He went on to say that this could be just a display of their prowess and a cloud sign that more breaches are underway.
If the hackers are successful in entering the voter rolls, it could give them a leeway to manipulate the information in all manner of ways such as there physical address.
Investigations into Electoral Fraud
Last year, the chief director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) Christopher Asher Wray, declared that the ground officers are investigating foreign election influence plots. The operation includes criminal efforts to undermine free and transparent voting in addition to voting infrastructure.
On a candid note, the senior cybersecurity advisor to the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency, Matt Masterson, said that there is more priority on focusing on electoral security as opposed to investigating voters' data on the darknet.
He proceeded on to say that some vending agents are in cahoots with political candidates who collect the information to aid them in having an upper edge in the election.
According to Debra O'Malley, an esteemed spokesman for Massachusetts secretary of state, only certain government officials are allowed to handle the voter registration files. But before they do it, they have to sign a non-disclosure agreement.
On the other hand, in Rhode Island, a database of controlled voter information is open to public purchase for as low $25. This available voter data is synthesized and filtered only to reveal the information that cannot implicate the owner or fully expose him/her.
Details such as social security and driving license numbers dare not included in the report, according to Rhode Islands secretary of state, Nellie Gorbea. This database, alongside countless others, was found circulating in dark web markets being traded between vendors and customers.
Safeguarding Credibility of Elections
Questions regarding the implacability of the available information were fast-rising considering the datasets included the names, addresses, and political party affiliations were all availed in the publically available information.
Gorbea went on to defend the state's decision to make the information available to help better identify the voters at the polling stations and avoid misrepresentations and impersonations.
In a twist of irony, Rhode Island has been investing in electoral security and other elements of its election innovation and technology. From just recently updating the states aging voter registration software to replacing the machine's hardware that had been in operation since the '90s, it is evident that the state has continuously been taking progressive steps towards improving the electoral process.
With elections approaching, it is a matter of time before we begin hearing similar stories of more data ending up on the dark web and its impact on the electoral process.
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