Amazon Is Putting the U.S. Voting System at a Huge Risk

Harsh Chauhan @techjunk13
October 15, 2019 17:00 UTC

Amazon dominates the public cloud infrastructure space with a market share of nearly 50%, but its domination in one area could prove to be problematic.

An investigative story by Reuters journalist Nandita Bose reveals that Amazon has been making a concerted effort to mark its presence in the U.S. election business.

According to an Amazon presentation seen by Reuters, over 40 states are now using the company’s election services ranging from voter engagement to administration and up to cyber security. The report points out that Amazon has been handling ballot data and voter rolls, as well as run state and county election websites.

Amazon’s election business is bad news for the U.S. voting system

Voting is supposed to be a decentralized process. But when you collect a lot of sensitive voter data in one place, that decentralization goes for a toss. This is why Amazon’s growing influence in U.S. elections puts the entire system at risk.

Amazon has managed to corner business from the likes of the Federal Election Commission (FEC), the Republican National Committee (RNC) and the Democratic National Committee (DNC) by advertising the low-cost and secure nature of its election-centric services. The ease of use that Amazon provides with its public cloud infrastructure is another reason why the company is able to make inroads into this space.

But all of this is coming at a cost. Though Amazon advertises itself as a secure provider of cloud services, it is not infallible. For instance, a former Amazon Web Services employee was behind the hacking of Capital One earlier this year that put the data of 106 million customers at risk.

A lawsuit brought against Amazon by a group of customers alleged that the company knew that there was a flaw in the system and the hacker exploited the same.

So, one shouldn’t think that Amazon’s cloud platform is bulletproof as all it takes is one miscreant to put a ton of data at risk.

A single target for hackers

With the next U.S. presidential election fast approaching, Amazon could prove to be a target for hackers. According to the Mueller Report, Russian cyber attackers were behind a successful attempt to hack the 2016 election, and the bad actors are now already at play to influence the next one.

Earlier this month, a hacking group with an apparent affiliation to Iran reportedly made an unsuccessful attempt to hack into President Trump’s re-election campaign. As we move closer to the 2020 election, these attempts could pick up the pace.

And hackers now know who stores the majority of the critical data pertaining to the upcoming elections, which makes Amazon a potential target. But will Amazon’s defenses be strong enough to ward off such miscreants? Only time will tell.

But if anyone manages to get through and exposes voter data, Amazon’s growing influence in the U.S. election business could undermine the voting system as a whole.

This article was edited by Sam Bourgi.

Last modified: October 15, 2019 17:02 UTC

Harsh Chauhan @techjunk13

Harsh covers tech, gaming, cryptocurrencies, and other financial topics on CCN since 2019. He has also written for other reputed publications such as The Motley Fool, TheStreet, and Seeking Alpha, and gets regularly featured on Yahoo! Finance. Harsh is based out of Indore, India. You can follow him on Twitter @techjunk13 or email him at harsh.chauhan(at)outlook.com.