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DDoS Warning as US Presidential Election Approaches

Security experts are warning that DDoS attacks could be used next Tuesday to suppress voter turnout for the US presidential elections.

FBI boss James Comey has already claimed the possibility of an attack on the voting system itself is unlikely as it is “dispersed among the 50 states and it is clunky as heck.”

However, there are other ways to disrupt the democratic process, according to security vendor Imperva.

The most likely scenario is DDoS-ers targeting organizations that set up carpools and free rides for voters to get to their polling stations, he claimed. With fewer polling stations now across the country and many areas lacking adequate public transport networks, voters need to travel further.

But the non-profits, churches and community centers which might organize transport are especially vulnerable to targeted attacks as they’re unlikely to have the resources to invest in DDoS mitigation.

Another scenario is a DDoS against those websites which help show the location of local polling stations. However, this is likely only to deter the most apathetic of voters, according to Imperva.

There could also be attempts to target the online voting platforms run by five states – Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Missouri and North Dakota.

“A DDoS attack targeting the portals would almost certainly block certain voters from casting their ballots, thereby potentially influencing the final outcome of the election,” the security vendor claimed.

“That said, a number of factors would limit the impact of such an assault. For example, of the five states only Alaska allows all eligible voters to cast their ballots electronically.”

With this election set to be one of the closest on record, and fought between two of the most unpopular candidates on record, any attempts at disruption could have a serious affect, especially in swing states.

Also a large percentage of the population remain undecided, meaning that a well targeted DDoS in the above scenarios could be enough to persuade them to stay at home.

This year’s election has been given an extra twist because of accusations by Washington that the Kremlin is trying to influence its outcome, or at least destabilize the process.

Russian state-backed hackers are believed to have stolen and published a ream of secret Democratic National Committee (DNC) emails. And there have also been reports of attempts to infiltrate state-level voting systems.

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