Multiple Threats Aimed at State and Local Election Systems Prompts U.S. Cybersecurity Agency to Boost Security
The U.S. Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) has initiated a proactive strategy to enhance election security across the nation, particularly aiming to reinforce support for local offices and instill confidence in voters regarding the safety and accuracy of the upcoming presidential elections. The agency is introducing a new program, the election security adviser initiative, which will be presented to the National Association of State Election Directors and the National Association of Secretaries of State during their annual meetings.
State and local election officials are confronted with a myriad of security challenges, including potential cyberattacks from foreign entities, ransomware assaults on computer systems, and the dissemination of election misinformation, which has led to harassment of officials and undermined public trust. Recent incidents such as AI-generated robocalls in New Hampshire and a cyberattack on Fulton County, Georgia, highlight the urgency of bolstering election security measures.
The CISA program involves the recruitment of ten experienced professionals in the field of elections, strategically positioned throughout the country. These advisers will complement existing staff tasked with conducting cybersecurity and physical security assessments for election offices upon request. The establishment of CISA itself followed the 2016 election, marked by Russian interference attempts, prompting the recognition of election systems as critical infrastructure deserving of enhanced federal support.
Jen Easterly, Director of CISA, announced the program's launch at a meeting of state election directors in South Carolina, emphasizing its exclusive focus on elections and the importance of understanding the unique complexities and security needs of each jurisdiction. The new advisers, including individuals with extensive experience in state election administration, are poised to provide vital support to election officials nationwide.
State election officials have expressed appreciation for the additional assistance from CISA, acknowledging the collaborative effort necessary to fortify cybersecurity infrastructure against malicious interference. The engagement between CISA and state authorities is seen as a crucial step forward in safeguarding the integrity of the electoral process.
The collaboration between CISA and state election bodies underscores a proactive approach to address evolving threats and bolster confidence in the electoral system, emphasizing the importance of partnership and expertise exchange in ensuring election security.