DARPA Researching How to Secure Our Voting Machines

The US defence technology agency that helped give us the Internet is hoping to secure our voting machines from being hacked.
John Loeffler

The US Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency is working on developing an open-source voting platform that may make voting machines nearly unhackable.

A Hardware Approach To Cybersecurity

The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) has been instrumental in developing the Internet, GPS, and all sorts of technology projects over the years, so it's rather intriguing that they are working on a way to secure voting machines against hacking; if anyone can do it, it would be DARPA.


Importantly, they’re taking a different approach than other cybersecurity providers who try to thwart hacks with software patches. DARPA instead is looking at how the machine’s hardware—like circuits, buses, and I/O ports—could be harnessed and reconfigured to thwart intruders.

This has real potential since in most cases. If there is a hardware solution to hackers trying to penetrate a system, there isn’t much a hacker can do without being present to physically interact with the machine—at least theoretically. Since software drives hardware, there will still be vulnerabilities for hackers to exploit, but DARPA seems to have a solution for this too.

Open Sourcing Our Voting Machines

DARPA plans to freely publish the new solution when it's developed for anyone, anywhere in the world to use, analyze, and test to ensure the system’s security.

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This crowdsourcing of a system or software is a powerful tool in securing a system since having two eyes read over source code or an hardware design can reveal flaws that one engineer alone might miss. Having potentially millions of security engineers around the world accessing and stress testing these systems can quickly reveal any weaknesses and, being open source, they can publish the fixes themselves, advancing the security of the system overall.

“This seems to us to have a deep national interest,” Linton Salmon, the program manager leading the project for DARPA, told the Washington Post. “Most of us want to make sure our votes get counted.”

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