How Blockchain and Bitcoin Can Prevent a Hacked Election

Security expert Darin Stanchfield talks about how a decentralized system can prevent hackers from manipulating the vote.

As the US is about to start one of the most critical presidential elections modern history, many are concerned with the security of the system. Whether it is Edward Snowden tweeting about hacking the official vote count, Donald Trump complaining about a rigged system or Democrats warning that a Russian cyber attack could manipulate the process, the concern is widespread and bipartisan.

We asked security expert Darin Stanchfield, CEO of KeepKey, a Seattle-based company that builds a secure digital hardware wallet for bitcoin and other crypto assets, how blockchain technology can heighten security and protect the voting system from attacks.

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“In today’s global information environment, where the threats of coordinated hacks are pervasive, we should take all security concerns seriously. These types of threats are real and actively happening. The main problem is that effective digital security is a constantly moving goal post.

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Darin Stanchfield, CEO, KeepKey
Darin Stanchfield, CEO, KeepKey

We need to understand that now, more than ever, any system is at risk of being hacked. The Blockchain does, however, provide innovations that current systems could embrace. The immutable nature of the blockchain means that if used in an election system, once a vote is cast it cannot be manipulated. The blockchain would also provide an audit trail for election results. And finally, using a public Blockchain like Bitcoin would mean the entire system was decentralized with no single point of failure for attackers to target.

KeepKey does three things that could improve current election systems. First, KeepKey protocol uses secure offline hardware to protect sensitive data (for bitcoin and digital assets, this data is a private key). Humans have not yet mastered the security of electrons moving over wires: offline hardware removes this vulnerability.

The second improvement: KeepKey authenticates its user to manipulate this sensitive data. This is very much like having a personal notary overseeing each transaction, governed by the rules of cryptography and math.

And finally, KeepKey is open source. If code is not transparent or open for review, one may never know what secrets lurk under the hood. To contrast, current election systems are networked. They do little to authenticate those casting votes. Finally, these systems are typically closed and not easily reviewable by security researchers or the public at large.”

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