How Cybersecurity Can Unlock the Potential of E-Voting: A Pivot to the Positive

McAfee recently worked with the Atlantic Council to launch a report in Washington, D.C. on how cybersecurity can help enable e-voting. The launch event, which featured a diverse panel of speakers, was illuminating and is continuing to ignite interest from the media. We’re delighted, of course, but not just because of the possibilities for e-voting. Even more importantly, we see this as the first issue Intel Security is examining in our pivot to the positive.

More often than not, the cybersecurity debate focuses on doom and gloom rather than discussing the potentials that cybersecurity can unlock. We believe that cybersecurity can play a powerful role in the betterment of people’s lives. The right security can improve opportunities for people to vote, enable better access to online health care services, and lead to innovations in transportation such as driverless cars. Our goal is to begin building a consensus on the positive role cybersecurity can hold in improving the lives of people. Such an acknowledgement is a vital addition to a conversation that has been dominated by such themes as cyber-attacks and regulation.

The report, “Online Voting: Risks and Rewards,” examines the current state of online and e-voting throughout the world as well as their potential dangers and benefits. Online and e-voting can cut costs stemming from paper ballots and machines, improve voting ability for the disabled, elderly, and voters living abroad, and possibly increase voter turnout thanks to its convenience and ease. A number of countries, including Estonia and India, have experimented with or settled on various forms of online and e-voting, but there is still significant room for growth. In order for online and e-voting to gain worldwide acceptance, security must be improved. Potential hacks pose a much tougher problem than financial breaches, as lost votes cannot be regained, and the dual goals of anonymity and verifiability within an online or e-voting system are largely incompatible with current technologies. But new techniques to improve the integrity and security of online and e-voting systems are constantly under development, and such positive steps have the ability to revolutionize democratic processes throughout the world.

We will be doing more of these events in the future to illustrate the power of security to enable innovation in the IT sector, including an upcoming report with the Atlantic Council that will explore the potential of networked medical devices. Cybersecurity has the power to reveal a plethora of opportunities that can improve the lives of individuals. A more positive approach will help ensure that the policy making process creates a balanced result that promotes both security and innovation.

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