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A Mathematical Model of Hacking the 2016 US Presidential Election
Umeå University, Faculty of Science and Technology, Department of Physics.
2018 (English)Independent thesis Advanced level (degree of Master (Two Years)), 300 HE creditsStudent thesis
Abstract [en]

After the 2016 US presidential election, allegations were published that the electronic voting machines used throughout the US could have been manipulated.These claims arose due to the reported attacks by Department of Homeland Security toward voter registration databases. The US is more vulnerable against these types of attacks since electronic voting machines is the most prevalent method for voting. To reduce election costs, other countries are also considering replacing paper ballots with electronic voting machines. This, however, imposes a risk. By attacking the electronic voting machines, an attacker could change the outcome of an election. A well-executed attack would be designed to be highly successful, but at the same time the risk for detection would be low. The question evaluated in this paper is whether such an attack would be possible and if so, how much it would cost to execute.

This paper presents a mathematical model of the 2016 US presidential election.The model is based on voting machine equipment data and pollingdata. The model is used to simulate how rational attackers would maximize their effect on the election and minimize their effort by hacking voting machines. By using polls, it was possible to determine the effort needed to change the outcome of the 2016 US presidential election and thus estimate the costs. Based on the model, the estimated cost to hack the 2016US presidential election would amount to at least ten million dollars. The results show that these attacks are possible by attacking only one manufacturer of electronic voting machines. Hence, the use of electronic voting machines poses too much of a risk for democracy, and paper ballots should still be considered for elections. This kind of model can be implemented on the elections of other countries that use electronic voting machines.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2018.
National Category
Other Computer and Information Science
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:umu:diva-155575OAI: oai:DiVA.org:umu-155575DiVA, id: diva2:1281662
External cooperation
Simovits Consulting
Subject / course
Examensarbete i teknisk fysik
Educational program
Master of Science Programme in Engineering Physics
Presentation
2018-11-02, 23:29 (Swedish)
Supervisors
Examiners
Available from: 2019-01-24 Created: 2019-01-22 Last updated: 2019-01-24Bibliographically approved

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A Mathematical Model of Hacking the 2016 US Presidential Election(2131 kB)69 downloads
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CiteExportLink to record
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Citation style
  • apa
  • ieee
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  • en-US
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Output format
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