In acknowledgment of the fiasco associated with 2020’s voting machine accessibility from/to the Internet, the Election Assistance Commission, an independent Federal Government facility (and unaffiliated with the Federal Election Commission), has moved to bar any connection with the Internet by a voting machine.
Going forward, vote systems cannot be connected to any digital networks, and wireless technology must be disabled too.
The new requirements provide a much more draconian ban on external access to the Internet or other computer networks, a security provision otherwise known as an “air gap.” The commission specifically cited the potential threat posed by foreign adversaries to meddle in elections.
It’s a good start, but it’s insufficient. That air gap can be penetrated, also, by any party interested enough to do so. Computers—any electronic device—emits electromagnetic radiation, particularly radio frequency radiation, and those signals can be received and read. For this reason, our National Security Agency has developed TEMPEST requirements to prevent these signals to be receivable by our foreign adversaries. Of interest here, TEMPEST requires electronic equipment containing or processing information of sufficient security interest to be enclosed inside glorified Faraday cages, which block those electromagnetic signals from escaping the equipment facility.
For the most part, such requirements would seem overkill for a voting center—except for that bit about foreign adversaries looking to meddle in an election. That risk is potentiated by the existence of a potentially highly contentious election, which gives one or another party an interest in…influencing…an election’s votes.
Our voting centers need to address that air gap vulnerability, also.
The EAC’s new requirements, in their entirety, can be read here.