Controversy surrounding the upcoming U.S. election is nothing new, even with it still being months away. However the latest news isn’t about the candidates but about hackers and cyber terrorism.
What are some of the research paper topics in the political science and computer science worlds to explore on this area?
Russian hackers hit two states
Think that the U.S. election and our voting system are secure? A recent targeting of the voter registration systems in Arizona and Illinois, allegedly by Russian hackers, has demonstrated just how vulnerable voting in America is to this kind of cyber terrorism. Computer experts have long warned that our system is not as safe as we think, but the question is, will we do anything about it?
“Here’s how Russian hackers could actually tip an American election” by Craig Timberg and Andrea Peterson for the August 30, 2016, edition of The Washington Post shared one way to make this upcoming U.S. election more hack proof. Timberg and Peterson wrote, “When it comes to voting machines, experts say the most secure systems rely on the strengths of old technologies and new ones. Voting machines with optical scanners, for example, use computer technology to read paper ballots in which voters fill in a bubble next to their preferred candidates. This creates both an electronic tally and a paper record, as do some newer touch-screen systems.” Research paper topics to explore could examine previous voter fraud situations in an U.S. election or how previous election issues, like the hanging chads of 2000, have changed our voting system.
Effects on the U.S. election
Other ideas for research paper topics could focus more on the potential effects hackers could have on the U.S. election or the ways the internet has changed voting for the good and the bad. For instance Adam Levin posted “5 Ways Hackers Could Influence the Election” on August 4, 2016, for credit.com with some possibilities.
For instance, each state handles voting differently, using different technology, none of which is protected by Homeland Security. Half of the states allow some form of online voting, which, while convenient, opens up more risks of cyber terrorism. Another area of concern is voter suppression. Levin cites spam emails in particular and wrote, “All that needs to happen here is a little misinformation: maybe the spam says your polling station is closed, or due to a terrorist threat there may be delays. It doesn’t take much to discourage potential voters.”
Other areas of cyber terrorism
Hackers interfering with the upcoming U.S. election are not the only way cyber terrorism can affect our lives. “10 Cyberthreat Predictions for 2016” by Hilary Tuttle for the March 1, 2016, edition of Risk Management shared more threats facing our world in the future.
Ransomware that allows hackers to hold a website hostage until the business pays their ransom is a growing threat. Many experts believe this type of cyber terrorism is shifting to the hackers threatening to release the site’s information if they are not paid. Another growing area of concern is the vulnerability of wearable devices. Tuttle wrote, “The data on wearable devices can be used to craft more targeted phishing attacks, and accessing the devices can be a far easier way to get into connected smartphones or broader corporate infrastructure.”
Finally the ill-defined boundaries of the cloud poses many opportunities for hackers, particularly the large amount of personal data it contains. Research paper topics could concentrate on the security aspects of computer science and what programs or protections are available to thwart hackers and cyber terrorism.
Are you worried about hackers and the threat of cyber terrorism on the outcome of the U.S. election? Let us know your thoughts in the comments.