What is a Zero Day? How have they been used before? How could they be used to alter the results of the 2020 US Elections? Why we need to be exceedingly concerned right now about election security given DHS’s blatant disregard for the US Constitution and laws and their ability to hack the results.
The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) was formed in the wake of 9/11 in a misguided attempt to solve communication issues between our intelligence organizations. Following its formation, one of the many departments and missions placed under its purview became election security. This is a task at which they failed in 2016 according to US intelligence. While I do not believe 2016 was a purposeful failure, I believe it is necessary to blow the whistle on their activities since 2016; which lead me to believe they not only are capable of hacking the 2020 election results, but that they likely intend to do so.
To understand their capabilities, I need to first take you back in time to the Iranian Missile Crisis under George W. Bush and the US/Mossad team which used intelligence agents and a new zero day virus (technically a worm) named Stuxnet to wipe out a significant portion of Iran’s nuclear capabilities. When Stuxnet first emerged, it spread rapidly around the world, though there was definitely a concentration of the virus in Iran. IT and Security specialists were at first confused, because the purpose of the virus was not immediately apparent.
To begin, it’s important to understand the sophistication of a zero day. This is a virus which uses a Microsoft Security Licence in its coding so that it is not picked up by even the most sophisticated anti-virus software. These licenses are used in software to show proof of having been coded by a trusted organization, and they are kept under extremely tight security. In the instance of Stuxnet, not just one but two licenses were used. These were obtained from companies who housed them in secure buildings, on secure floors which required biometric scans to access. As you might suspect, these don’t come cheap. At the time, the approximate black market value of a licence was 500,000 USD. Super secure sites around the world use what is called an air gap to protect from such viruses. This means that they use a network which is entirely closed off from the outside world by a physical air-gap. So when the Stuxnet zero day was capable of jumping this air gap, it shocked many.
How was this done? The answer is pretty complex and can vary, but we know with Stuxnet that the US had the codes for all Siemen’s boxes that Iran was using in their nuclear centrifuges because they had originally been given to Iran by Bush Sr. Think of these boxes as a light switch with a tiny and very simple computer inside. By communicating directly with the boxes themselves, Stuxnet was able to alter the spinning of Iran’s centrifuges without even alerting anyone at the plant that something had gone wrong. As I’m sure you’ll understand, refining and processing nuclear materials is an extremely precise process. Altering the spin of these centrifuges was enough to cause them to explode.
At the time, I personally thought that this might be an eloquent way to deal with rogue states obtaining nuclear capabilities, and I cheered on the technical achievement. That said, I also joined with my fellow risk minded geeks in worrying about the lack of established international rules of engagement with cyber warfare. I also pondered the ethics of having done this without approval from Congress, as it meant we could later find ourselves engaged in hot wars over the internet without any Congressional oversight. For example, using this same technique, a country could hypothetically do something similar to cause a nuclear meltdown at a power plant, or to destroy infrastructure. Either of these actions would have far reaching disastrous consequences in civilian populations, and are highly unethical.
While this attack was successfully launched under George W. Bush a decade ago, none of this absolutely vital work was done to ensure there are checks and balances with regard to cyber warfare. Fast forward to the Trump Administration and the disastrous year that is Earth, 2020. One of the reasons I was pro-Stuxnet 1 is that it was executed by a cyber team which was overseen by the US Military. Thanks to Donald Trump’s well distracted-from planning, this is no longer the case. Shortly after Trump appointed the entirely unqualified Richard Grennell to Acting DNI in February, Trump made a final move to “consolidate” US offensive cyber abilities under DHS.
This brings me full circle to my original argument that DHS has the ability to hack the US elections. Similar to Stuxnet, the US has a new zero day virus which is capable of jumping air gaps. Again, similar to Stuxnet, DHS has the information on every electronic voting terminal in the United States. Reports began surfacing this Spring of a new zero day virus that can lift data over an air gap. It would be folly to think that this is not possible in reverse, that it could not instead plant data. To any skeptics, I will remind them that these moves were made before the primaries, which Trump wanted Joe Biden to win, seeing him as an easier competitor. This is not a criticism of Biden or a political argument, it is merely what has been reported by multiple entities. And TDMS Research, an election monitoring group, has since brought forward data showing that discrepancies between exit polls and voting totals show a Nation-wide variation of 2-3x the point at which the United Nations policy calls for election monitoring.
Why has this not been discussed more broadly? There are a few reasons. To begin, understandably the Biden camp and the DNC supporting him do not want to sow doubt or give an excuse for MAGA to make claims that Biden is not a legally elected candidate. Though one will note that in the past week the DNC has been speaking out about a need to beat Trump by such a huge margin that there can be no doubt. It is my argument, that this is because the DNC now understands the great threat facing this Republic.
DHS is capable of altering US election results. They are showing us in real time in Portland, Kansas City, D.C, Columbus, and Chicago that they are willing to violate the Constitution in defense of Donald Trump. In summation, if we do not remove election security monitoring out from under DHS immediately, I do not believe we have any hope of having a real election in November. Especially not with the combined factors of voter suppression, the pandemic, and outside efforts to hack the election by Russia and China which both want Trump to win to further destabilize the United States.
Full Length Documentary on Stuxnet