When most people think of hacking an election, they imagine hackers breaking into voting machines and changing vote tallies to help or hurt a particular candidate.
However, as Axios reports, a hacker could potentially do just as much damage by merely creating the appearance that they broke into a voting machine to change votes.
In particular, the publication says that it would be relatively easy for hackers to “probe voting systems without actually breaching them” and then start rumors that they broke into machines and altered votes.
Laura Rosenberger, the director of the Alliance for Securing Democracy, tells Axios that “you could imagine a period of time of chaos after the midterms in which people would be worried as to whether there was a hack because someone is claiming there was a hack, even if there wasn’t.”
One unnamed Silicon Valley executive similarly tells Axios that “if I was a sophisticated bad actor, the cost to actually flip an election is pretty high… the cost to make it look like I did is much lower.”