Truman National Security Project

Iranian Cyber Attack Reveals — Strength?

florida ballot
By Dan Nolan | 1.15.13
Colonel, US Army (Ret.)

The N.Y. Times published an excellent article on cyber security and an attack, possibly by Iran, on our banking system.  The supposition is that Iran was retaliating for the introduction of Stuxnet into their nuclear material preparation program.  This has been neither confirmed nor denied by anyone in the government.  This very sophisticated and, possibly, state sponsored attack was well planned, artfully executed and bankrolled in a way that only a nation-state could. It was characterized as so cutting-edge that it was the equivalent of “a few yapping Chihuahuas transformed into a pack of fire-breathing Godzillas.”

The result?  “Dozens of online banking sites slowed, hiccupped or ground to a halt before recovering several minutes later”.

Now, I am as unhappy as the next patriot about the attack, but if the best a nation-state could do was slow down a website for a few minutes, doesn’t that speak highly of our ability to defend against such onslaughts?  Perhaps the state of the art, advanced cryptographic protocols available today, and in constant development and refinement, are proof that we can continue to move trillions of dollars a day, as well as medical records and lifesaving services via the Internet.  We must be ever vigilant against attacks and continually monitor our systems, but the security of today is not the security of just five years ago.

Maybe it is time to find a way to keep little old ladies from standing out in the south Florida sun for three hours, waiting to vote.

This nation almost failed in its electoral process because of paper (see: chad, hanging).  Yet, still today, there are a few strident voices that rail against the advent of online voting.  Their mantra is that only paper ballots can prevent fraud in the system and that the internet is way too vulnerable to allow for an accurate and private election.  This is dogma that prevents election modernization, disenfranchises overseas voters (see: Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen and Marines), and those with physical challenges and makes old folks sunburnt.

The challenges of voter identification and verification, ballot marking, maintenance of privacy and security of the vote have all been solved.  Internet voting is the norm in many places outside this country while we are treed by Chihuahuas who may have had valid concerns in the past, but who still cling to paper as an anchor to innovations in democracy.  The time is now; make the move.

Dan Nolan is a member of Operation Free. Views expressed are his own.