Despite attempts from adversaries such as China, Iran and Russia to compromise voting on America’s Election Day, the election system worked well, even with the record levels of voting, reported senior officials with the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s (DHS’) Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA). The cybersecurity concerns now move to protecting the final vote counting, canvasing, auditing, certification and inauguration phases.
Election Cyber Risks
Ten states and Washington, D.C., held primaries on June 2 as part of this year’s presidential and local election cycle. Along with other federal stakeholders, the Department of Homeland Security’s Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency, known as CISA, has the role of helping to protect American’s confidence in the voting process by providing cybersecurity and a secure voting infrastructure.
Foreign countries are likely to continue their cyber-based disinformation campaigns as an inexpensive way of shaping thinking in democracies, according to a panel of experts at the AFCEA/INSA Intelligence & National Security Summit on September 5. Only a concerted effort by government, the commercial sector and the public can blunt its effects, especially as the 2020 elections loom.
“Disinformation is not the weaponization of knowledge, it’s the weaponization of cognition,” declared Brett Horvath, president, Guardians.ai. “To have a coherent strategy, it has to be built on principles: What are you defending, and what are you attacking?”
Russia may have popularized the manipulation of social media to further its own agenda, but it was not the first country to do so, nor will it be the last. A number of other countries are engaging in similar tactics, but so far have flown largely under the radar. The Oxford Internet Institute found that at least 28 countries worldwide are exploiting social media to influence the public opinion of their own or foreign populations.
The Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI) announced it is stepping up efforts to combat the risks of adversarial influence campaigns against American democracy. Together with the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and the FBI, the ODNI will give a classified briefing to election officials in every U.S. state on February 16 and 18.
Last in a four-part series on election cyber vulnerabilities.
Standardizing voter registration processes, voting machines and vote tabulation is the key to eliminating most vulnerabilities plaguing U.S. elections, according to several cybersecurity experts. These standardizations would embed security, enable backups and eliminate many backdoors through which hackers and vote fraudsters currently can warp the results of an election.
Third in a four-part series on election cyber vulnerabilities.
Second in a four-part series on election cyber vulnerabilities.
This is the first of a four-part series, based on interviews with private sector cybersecurity experts, on the vulnerability of U.S. elections to cyberspace intrusion. The next three parts will focus on voting machines, vote tabulation and potential solutions to existing and future challenges.