One question you may be asking yourself is, should we be worried? The answer according to Joseph Murdock, Information Systems Professor here at CU Denver Business School, is yes. “Prior to computers, if I was going to manipulate your vote, I would need some type of proximity,” Murdock said. Not anymore.
Murdock is currently developing a Master’s program in cybersecurity. Before this, he established a Cyberdefense program recognized by the National Security Administration (NSA) and the Department of Homeland Security (DHS).
You don’t need to directly manipulate the voting process to interfere with elections. “If you look at the 2016 presidential election, it was influenced by foreign actors but not necessarily through compromising voting machines,” Murdock said. Voters were manipulated socially—through Facebook ads, social media posts, disinformation, and deepfakes.
The upcoming election will likely be manipulated using technology. “Traditional actors have teams dedicated to this,” Murdock said. “The U.S. government does it, the Russians do it, the Chinese do it. Propaganda has been around for a long time, but computers make it easier to reach larger audiences,” he continued.
Any interference in the upcoming 2020 election will likely target people in the middle of the political spectrum, which means anyone who is not in one definitive political party should be especially cautious. Murdock tells his students to question EVERYTHING. “We can have our own opinions, but we shouldn’t be able to have our own facts,” he said.