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Friday, February 28, 2020

FBI investigating if attempted voting app hack is linked to University of Michigan course


By Hollie Ferguson | Oct 14, 2019

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An ongoing investigation into an attempted 2018 midterm elections hack could lead the FBI to the University of Michigan.

According to reporting by CNN, an attempted hack into a voting app called Voatz may have been a part of an experiment into security breaches and technological vulnerability. Voatz is used by West Virginia to allow overseas and military members to vote via smartphone.

CNN reported that those close to the situation believe that researching purposes may have been the main goal of the attempted hack rather than an effort to change any vote or alter the outcome, and that the unsuccessful attempted hack may be a part of a University of Michigan election security course. The University of Michigan houses the Michigan Election Security Commission.

Michigan Sen. Michael MacDonald (R-Macomb Township) | MacDonald's website

The investigation has brought into question the methods used in research and investigation for innovation. Following the results of the 2016 presidential election and the investigation into election interference, this subject has been a hot topic in conversations from newsrooms to living rooms. 

Sen. Michael MacDonald (R-Macomb Township) told Macomb Today preserving the security of elections is an important endeavor in this new age of apps and technology. 

“Protecting the integrity of elections is vital," MacDonald said. "I am in favor of providing more opportunities for those who bravely serve us to fulfill their civic duty as well, but we need to ensure that we preserve the security of these elections. This brings to mind how we must be careful with progress when it comes to protecting the future of our elections.” 

While MacDonald reserves judgment regarding the attempted hacking until further information is presented and the investigation complete, he emphasizes that the importance of progress in expanding the ease of voting goes hand-in-hand with maintaining the security and legitimacy of elections. 

The attempted hacking into Voatz was addressed quickly and reported to the proper authorities in a timely manner. CNN reports that while the app does participate in a program that pays researchers to find issues in their system, it has updated its terms to state that it does not allow any participants to interfere in any "live election system." 

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Michigan State SenateUniversity of Michigan

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