Welcome to the Future of Security. Let’s get started:
The election security picture continues to look unsettled. Last week, a study by the University of Michigan found that new voting machines in hundreds of districts lack adequate safeguards to protect against hacking. The study, according to the Washington Post, was an independent review of the machines called ballot-marking devices, or BMDs, which at least 18 percent of the country's districts will use as their default voting machines in November. The BMDs were believed to be a secure option to the kind of efforts by Russia to infiltrate and manipulate the country’s infrastructure. Now, the situation looks less clear.
“The implication of our study is that it’s extremely unsafe [to use BMDs], especially in close elections,” Alex Halderman, a University of Michigan computer science professor and one of seven authors of the study, told the Post.
Is voting technology unsafe? This latest revelation has led to calls by a number of experts to have voters cast paper ballots. But switching to paper ballots could be problematic. Almost 16 million American voters spread across eight states won’t have paper backups for their votes in 2020, according to the Post.
States are on alert. This week, Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger instructed elections officials for the state and individual counties to be on heightened diligence against possible cybersecurity attacks following a warning issued by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.
“Nothing is more important than the security and integrity of elections,” Raffensperger said. “The state’s election system uses the most advanced protections against cyberattacks and draws on the advice and best practices of national experts. While no specific threat has been identified, this latest warning serves as a reminder that we can never lower our guard.”
Should school security include facial recognition technology?
A school district in upstate New York has begun using facial and object recognition technology as a security precaution. According to the Lockport School District
the technology, known as the AEGIS system, can detect guns and uses facial recognition to identify individuals, and will function “as an additional security measures in all buildings.”
It’s a first and it’s controversial. The use of facial recognition inside the school is considered one of the first times the technology has been deployed in public education. The initial plans were opposed by the New York State Education Department over privacy concerns. In response, the launch date was delayed for months while the department requested Lockport school officials to adequately deal with privacy issues, such as not storing students’ identifying information in the system’s database.
But other schools want it. Since Lockport announced its initial plans to use facial recognition (pushed back from the original September launch date), other school systems around the country have begun to show interest in the technology and have begun to implement the technology as means to provide better security.
Ransomware attacks continue to rack up government victims.
In California’s Bay Area, a local library system in Contra Costa County
confirmed last week it had been hit by hackers, resulting in network outages affected services at all 26 library branches. An investigation is underway.
Also last week, the city of Las Vegas
reported a network breach as the result of a malicious email, officials confirmed. An email led to a "compromise" of the computer network. The incident coincided with the first day of CES, one of the largest tech events of its kind, which was held at the Las Vegas Convention Center.