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Cyber-security is top of mind for many on election Tuesday

Posted at 4:46 PM, Nov 05, 2018
and last updated 2018-11-05 21:04:01-05

The highly-anticipated midterm election is finally upon us. Polls will open across Arizona at 6 a.m. Tuesday.

But, with that, comes major preparation for officials to set up a safe and secure voting system.

That's paramount here in our state, where we were one of the most targeted states in the 2016 election. That has election officials on alert.


When votes start rolling in Tuesday, a team of cyber-detectives will be staring at computers screens filled with code.

"They're going to be looking at the systems, they're gonna be looking for breaches, they're gonna be looking for attacks coming in," said Dr. Milton Mattox. 

Cyber Expert with Scottsdale based Cipher Loc, Dr. Mattox says with the state of Arizona in the crosshairs, leaders are taking unprecedented steps to secure your vote. 

"There's a lot that could have been done since 2016 that I don't believe we have done, there are particularly three areas that I believe we should focus on," said Dr. Mattox. 

One of those areas was targeted in 2016.

Hackers honed in on the state's voter registration systems. 

"If an individual like yourself wanted to go down and actually vote, somebody could change it to show you’re not eligible to vote," said Dr. Mattox. 

Dr. Mattox says those systems and data should be encrypted. He says the next focus should be on voting machines. 

"We need to make sure the software on the voting machines are as up to date as possible, making sure they are disconnected from the internet, then that they are physically secure," said Dr. Mattox. 

According to a report released by the Secretary of State’s office, those machines have been put to the test. 

With experts constantly looking for the fatal flaws hackers may try to leverage, he says physical security of the machines themselves also remains a concern. 

Questions like where are the machines stored during the year and who has access to them. 

"So that no one can come in and put a thumb drive into the machine and actually try to change the voting as the voting is occurring," said Dr. Mattox. 

And with the eyes of the nation fixated on those'll be a test of capability that keep democracy a level playing field. 

On a national level, multiple federal agencies including the FBI, Department of Justice, Department of Homeland Security, and the Office of the Director of National Intelligence said the government has been working "in unprecedented ways to combat influence efforts and to support state and local officials in securing our elections, including efforts to harden election infrastructure against interference. Our goal is clear: ensure every vote is counted and counted correctly. At this time we have no indication of compromise of our nation's election infrastructure that would prevent voting, change vote counts, or disrupt the ability to tally votes."

Officials said further information on efforts to secure the election were available on Homeland Security's website.