U.S. Department of State Anticipates Foreign Interference in Midterm Elections, Awards up to $10 Million for Relevant Information
Midterm elections in the U.S. are approaching, and given legitimate concerns about misinformation campaigns having affected the 2020 elections, now cybersecurity experts will be involved to back up the whole process. The University of Southern California Election Cybersecurity Initiative will run a series of regional workshops in which election officials will be educated on the best practices and procedures to ensure a fair election process. Starting last Thursday, additional workshops will occur in various locations across the country in July.
Though the U.S. Department of Justice has not provided any evidence of tampering with the previous elections, there has been proof of unknown actors running online campaigns with the purpose of spreading misinformation on different facts and events that may have affected the vote in 2020. Marie Harf, an international elections analyst, recently commented that there are grounded concerns that such cyberattacks are likely to continue into November's midterms elections as well.
Information that leads to identifying foreign interference in this year's elections can reward its suppliers with up to $10 Million, as the Department of State announced at the end of last month. According to Marie Harf, concerns are again related to the Russian Federation and its attempts to seed conspiracy theories among the American people, trying to disturb the elections' integrity.
As part of the educational workshops that already took place, cybersecurity experts showed officials from five southern states, including Florida, how to secure passwords, avoid e-mail scams with "phishing" messages, and recognize fake news. A recorded message from Florida Secretary of State Cord Byrd was also presented to the election's officials. Byrd claimed that resources were allocated to securing Florida's elections and preventing cyber threats. Specifically, he pointed out the federal, state, and local agencies establishing new elections crime task forces, checking poll workers' backgrounds, and requiring I.Ds.
Evading questions about former U.S. President Trump's claims about the 2020 Election being "stolen," Byrd emphasized the "significant investments" made by the state of Florida to provide the necessary infrastructure, technology, and resources for an efficient and secure vote in November.
The USC Election Cybersecurity Initiative is an independent project supported by Google and aimed at providing factual, objective information to all citizens, policymakers, and election workers. This month, three upcoming USC cyber security conferences for election officials will take place.