Election Cyber Risks

September 5, 2019
By Robert K. Ackerman
 Panelists at the AFCEA/INSA Intelligence & National Security Summit discussing the hard truth about disinformation are (l-r) Sujit Raman, associate deputy attorney general, U.S. Department of Justice; Daniel Kimmage, principal deputy coordinator, Global Engagement Center, State Department; Suzanne Kelly, CEO, The Cipher Brief; and Brett Horvath, president, Guardians.ai. Credit: Herman Farrer Photography

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?”

April 1, 2019
By Donara Barojan
While U.S. officials have focused on how Russia’s use of social media may have interfered with the 2016 presidential elections, Iran has been quietly using the platforms to forge a battle of its own. Credit: Milosz Maslanka/Shutterstock.com

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.

February 16, 2018
 
The intelligence community is schooling election officials on the risks of adversarial influence campaigns during elections. Credit: Shutterstock/Alexandru Nika

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.

October 14, 2016
By Robert K. Ackerman

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.

October 13, 2016
By Robert K. Ackerman

Third in a four-part series on election cyber vulnerabilities.

October 12, 2016
By Robert K. Ackerman

Second in a four-part series on election cyber vulnerabilities.

October 11, 2016
By Robert K. Ackerman

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.