RSCC students explore vulnerability of the election process in Tennessee

A team of students from Roane State Community College’s Digital Forensics class was recently requested by Homeland Security to explore the cyber hygiene vulnerability of the Election Commission website of a West Tennessee county, said Dr. George Meghabghab, head of the college’s computer science division.

The project was initiated by Homeland Security official James Cotter, who met with Dr. Meghabghab during July and August to flesh out the project, including expectations from each other and outcomes.

Such a project is ongoing on other Tennessee election commission websites, Meghabghab said.

He described the efforts as critical tasks of Homeland Security in Tennessee.

Cyber hygiene scanning activity uses a combination of scanning services and tools for testing network mapping and vulnerability scanning.

More than six different tools were used to measure the cyber hygiene of the website of the West Tennessee county, Meghabghab said.

At each step, the addressed risk level, likelihood ratings and impact ratings were assessed, the professor said.

The team checked the following: name server lookup, SSL server configuration, website content and design, and domain and network scan.

Cotter attended the recent presentation of the team’s findings in the cyber lab located in the Goff Building on Roane State’s Oak Ridge campus.

Cotter said he was impressed with the students’ findings and the depth of analysis that was provided.

The findings will be summarized and submitted to the Tennessee Director of Elections. Cotter congratulated Dr. Meghabghab on the program.

He said Meghabghab’s program will receive kudos from the national Homeland Security director.

Many of the findings, which cannot be discussed, will be relayed immediately to other security agencies in Tennessee, including the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation and the FBI.

Similar projects will be conducted in the future for other Tennessee Election Commission websites, Meghabghab said.