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FBI Investigating Attempted Hack of West Virginia’s Blockchain-Powered Voting App by Student

An unnamed individual reportedly attempted to hack into West Virginia’s pilot voting app program, and the unsuccessful breach is currently being investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI). 

The alleged hack was recently revealed by Mac Warner, the Secretary of State of West Virginia. In a public address, Warner admitted there was a failed attempt to hack the voting pilot program. The incident apparently happened during the 2018 election period. 

Hacking Confirmed by Mike Stuart

The news was later confirmed by Mike Stuart, the US Attorney for the Southern District of West Virginia. During a press conference, Stuart said the FBI is looking into the “unsuccessful attempted intrusion” of an unknown party to get access to the Voatz app. 

The mobile application was utilized to collect ballots from military and overseas voters during the 2018 election. 

The US attorney claimed his office was alerted by Warner during that particular election cycle. Warner had apparently identified spurious activity that could’ve been a move to have access to Voatz. 

According to reports, the IP addresses of the alleged hackers have been turned over to the FBI, and the agency will determine whether a felony has been committed. The IP addresses were said to be linked to the University of Michigan, so the FBI is also investigating whether the individual or individuals involved in the attempted breach has done so as part of the election security course. 

The blockchain-powered voting application was developed by Voatz, a Medici-supported blockchain startup. The company was tasked to provide US military personnel and citizens assigned abroad a secure way to cast their ballot.  

The app utilizes numerous security layers for verifying identity, like thumbprints and facial recognition. Ballot receipts that are voter-verified are stored on an unchangeable ledger.  

Warner stated that every security measure developed for the system worked the way it was supposed to do – to ensure the identities and ballots of voters remained inviolable, and to gather as much information about the process as possible. 

Everything is Free from Tampering

While details can’t be disclosed since the investigation is ongoing, Warner confidently said that no votes were changed, impacted, or viewed. They remained free from tampering. He also added that there was no evidence whatsoever of a vote being changed in the 2018 election. 

Warner proudly added that all their hard work and investments paid off as all their systems worked perfectly. He then said stronger protocols and security measures are being implemented ahead of 2020. 

Voatz has been involved in over 31 pilot programs, including one held during Denver, Colorado’s municipal elections last May.

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