Election security is a hot topic, especially with the general election coming up in the U.S. November. Last week, two experts discussed current threats to election security, adversary motivations, recent attempts to influence election outcomes, and how everyone – from voters to campaign and election officials – can help protect our democracy.
Meet the presenters:
- Matt Ashburn -- Former CIA cybersecurity officer and the National Security CISO at the White House. Today, Matt serves as the Head of strategic initiatives at Authentic8.
- Mick Baccio -- Former Chief Information Security Officer at Pete for America, and White House Threat Intelligence Branch Chief. Currently a Security Advisor at Splunk.
Who are the adversaries and what’s all this about?
It’s no secret that well-resourced adversaries, such as nation-states, have a continued interest in influencing the U.S. electoral process. China, Russia, Iran, and many others, including several smaller states, all have interest in the outcome of the U.S. elections. What happens in America impacts the political and economic climate around the world.
The elections are the mechanism for the American people to exercise their democratic rights to select their new leaders. Naturally, foreign powers try to use this opportunity to sway the public opinion in favor of a leader whose proposed policies help advance their own interests.
It’s important to remember that “election interference” is not only about hacking into voting machines or interfering with the calculation of the votes. The bulk of election meddling occurs through social media and other channels, aimed at swaying the public opinion, increasing discord and division among American people, interfering with election campaigns, and trying to shape the image of political figures.
What can we do about it?
In hindsight, we learned a lot from the revelations that came after the 2016 elections:
- We’ve improved our tools and processes
- Election campaigns have adopted better cybersecurity practices
- The U.S. has established many strong partnerships between the public and private sectors
But there’s still a lot that needs to be done to make sure our electoral process going forward is as strong as possible.
As voters, we need to think critically, especially when we see something on social media; be alert and aware of propaganda and disinformation; and most importantly – go out and vote. And for cybersecurity professionals who want to learn more about election infrastructure security and monitoring practices, there are many available resources and opportunities to participate in election security discussions and policy shaping.
Election security resources
- Harris Election Cyber Surge Program: https://harris.uchicago.edu/research-impact/centers-institutes/cyber-policy-initiative/election-cyber-surge
- CISA / DHS: Election Infrastructure Security Resource Guide
- Election Infrastructure ISAC (EI-ISAC): https://www.cisecurity.org/ei-isac/
Watch Election Security: Defending our Democracy against Well-Resourced Adversaries now. If you want to continue the conversation with our experts, contact Authentic8.