TAMPA, Fla. — A recent report from Vice says critical U.S. election systems have been left exposed online for months, and possibly years.
According to the report, researchers found 35 systems have been connected to the internet despite the top voting machine company's insistence that the systems are never connected to the internet.
Cybersecurity expert Stu Sjouwerman says if true, it’s highly surprising that election systems around the country would be left online and open to hackers.
“Bad guys from the outside can come in and manipulate various things,” he said.
Sjouwerman founded Clearwater-based KnowBe4 and says voting machines aren’t built that well to begin with.
Now, the report from Vice found that those machines in 10 different states were connected to the internet, sometimes for months at a time.
“Due to oversight, they would leave them online which truly is an invitation for, especially, the Russians to just get in there and see if they can get in there. See if they can change results," said Sjowerman.
The report says researchers also found a connected system they believe belongs to Pasco County.
Pasco’s supervisor of elections Brian Corley says its system isn't connected to the internet in an on-going manner.
But, they do sometimes connect during testing and for election night.
“If you turn it on and off quickly. You are probably okay. But if you leave it online for months it’s asking for trouble," said Sjowerman.
The Vice report says several systems were still online but dropped off once researchers reported them, suggesting what they discovered is on the mark.
Pasco election officials say they would need time frame and IP addresses addressed in the article to be able to comment further.
Sjouwerman says the hackers will be at it again in the coming elections so security measures need to be beefed up and results need to be audited and the old paper systems may still be the best.
To read the full Vice article click here.