Boosting state, local election offices: Federal cyber agency launches program

February 8, 2024
2 mins read

TLDR:

The U.S. Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) has launched a program aimed at improving election security in the States. The program, introduced to the National Association of State Election Directors and the National Association of Secretaries of State, includes 10 new hires with extensive election experience, who will join other staff in conducting cyber and physical security reviews for election offices. Election officials have been facing challenges such as cyberattacks, ransomware, election misinformation, and public confidence issues. The program aims to provide support and reassurance to voters that the upcoming presidential elections will be safe and accurate.

Key elements:

  • The U.S. Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) has launched a program to boost election security in the States.
  • The program aims to provide support for local offices and reassure voters about the safety and accuracy of the upcoming presidential elections.
  • Election officials face security challenges such as cyberattacks, ransomware, election misinformation, and public confidence issues.
  • The program includes 10 new hires with extensive election experience who will conduct cyber and physical security reviews for election offices.
  • CISA was formed in the aftermath of the 2016 election and election systems were designated critical infrastructure.
  • The new team of advisers will be focused entirely on elections to address the complexity and varying jurisdictions of the voting process.
  • State election officials welcome the additional help and support from CISA to safeguard their cybersecurity infrastructure against potential interference.

The U.S. Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) has launched a program aimed at boosting election security in the United States. The program seeks to provide support to state and local election offices and to reassure voters that the upcoming presidential elections will be safe and accurate. The program was introduced to the National Association of State Election Directors and the National Association of Secretaries of State, and includes 10 new hires with extensive election experience, who will join other staff in conducting cyber and physical security reviews for election offices that request them.

Election officials face a growing list of security challenges, including potential cyberattacks by foreign governments, criminal ransomware attacks on computer systems, and the persistence of election misinformation that undermines public confidence. Recent incidents include AI-generated robocalls before New Hampshire’s presidential primary and a cyberattack affecting the local government in Fulton County, Georgia. The CISA program aims to address these challenges and provide much-needed support to state and local officials.

The program was announced by CISA Director Jen Easterly and includes a team of advisers who will focus solely on elections. This is crucial due to the complexities and variations in voting processes across different jurisdictions. The team includes individuals with extensive election experience, such as former state election directors and elections supervisors. Their role will be to support and assist state and local election officials in preparing for upcoming elections and linking them to the expertise and services offered by CISA in order to ensure the resilience and security of election systems.

State election officials have welcomed the additional assistance and support from CISA. They emphasize the importance of partnerships and collaboration in addressing cybersecurity threats and safeguarding election systems. The new program aims to strengthen the relationship between CISA and state and local election offices, providing a network of support to ensure the resiliency of the election system.

The launch of this program reflects the ongoing efforts to improve election security and address the challenges posed by cyber threats and misinformation. By boosting support for state and local election offices, CISA aims to enhance the security and accuracy of the upcoming presidential elections and reassure voters of the integrity of the democratic process.

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