Internet security leader: Hackers are 'trying to undermine very process of democracy'

One internet security expert is cautioning that hackers are threatening U.S. Democracy — and it’s not just happening at the voting booths.

Matt Prince, co-founder and CEO of internet security company Cloudflare, said on Wednesday that he thinks the very core of the Democratic process is at stake.

“I think what is important is that it's not necessarily that the attackers are for or against any particular party – what the attackers seem to be doing is trying to undermine the very process of democracy in the United States," Prince told Hill.TV co-host Buck Sexton on "Rising."

Prince pointed to the Senate special election in Alabama in 2017 as one example.

“What we’ve seen in the special elections that we’ve helped protect, such as the special election in Alabama [late last] year, is there [is] a much higher level of attacks being launched against these sites and it’s just not what happens in the voting booth…We’re seeing hackers going after sites where people can register to vote, we’re seeing hackers go after sites which tell you where your polling place is,” he said.

Prince said his company has launched a new initiative, called the “Athenian Project,” which is aimed at ensuring that elections are protected from hackers' attempts to steal voter data, keeping election websites up during high-traffic times and preventing the spread of false information. The project is free to all U.S. state, county and municipal government sites. 

He said inspiration for the project stemmed from the revelation last year that Facebook had unknowingly sold $100,000 in political advertisements to Russia-linked accounts ahead of the 2016 election. 

The company also identified and shut down hundreds of accounts linked to a Russian organization known as the Internet Research Agency (IRA), the notorious troll farm which sought to spread misinformation and create divisions among American voters during the 2016 election.

DHS is now working with state election officials to share information on cyber threats and to help provide states with vulnerability tests to secure their voter systems in future elections.

Still, many states still have a long way to go when it comes to fortifying their election systems against potential security risks. 

Over the weekend, an 11-year-old boy hacked into a replica of Florida's state election website and changed the voting results in minutes.

— Tess Bonn