After the previous presidential election and the controversy thereafter, several states had said that they would upgrade their voting machines to eliminate security concerns. However, a report from the Associated Press reveals that while counties across the country have acquired new equipment, the bulk of these machines are running on outdated software which remains vulnerable to attacks from hackers.
Windows 7 is the outdated software in question. The machines run on it and Microsoft will be officially ending support for Windows 7 in January 2020. AP conducted an analysis of voting machines across all 50 states and found that multiple battleground states are affected by the end of Windows 7 support.
They include Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, Florida, Iowa, Indiana, Arizona, and North Carolina. Major election equipment vendors do say that they will offer new systems that run on Windows 10 but it’s not known for now whether they will be cleared and distributed to counties in time for use in the 2020 election next November.
Microsoft pointed out in the report that it has promised free security updates for Windows 7 through 2023. However, releasing security updates is just one part of the equation. It’s up to system owners to actually install those updates and if they’re not quick to do that, that may leave the voting machines vulnerable to hackers that are looking to undermine the country’s electoral process.
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