For many Americans, election security is a top-of-mind concern. According to a report published by the Brennan Center for Justice, a nonpartisan law and policy institute, the cyberattacks in 2016 highlighted large weaknesses in voting systems across the country, further exposing our elections to outside influence.
In 2017, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) deemed election infrastructure to be a critical sector, meaning that elections are so significant to our way of life that any further damage would have drastic effects on the country.
During a visit to Johnson & Wales University’s Providence Campus this month, Rhode Island’s Secretary of State Nellie Gorbea spoke to students about the importance of election security.
“The big balancing act I’ve had over the last five years is to improve access to the ballot box while protecting the integrity of every vote,” she said. “We can absolutely have a more secure system, more integrity, and still make it easier for people to get to that ballot box.”
So how can lawmakers ensure that a secure voting system really exists in our country? According to the DHS, state and local governments are ultimately responsible for administering elections successfully. However, there are a few things officials do nationwide to safeguard elections, according to the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA).
The CISA offers an array of cybersecurity assessments to evaluate our election systems for vulnerabilities. Services such as a resilience review, external dependencies management assessment, cyber-infrastructure survey, and more are available to state and local jurisdictions free of cost.
2. Detection and prevention services
When a significant risk is exposed, the CISA quickly notifies the parties involved and conducts incident management operations, weakness assessments, and implements technical services to mitigate risk such as malware analyses.
3. Education and training
Education is crucial to ensuring election security across the country. As a leader in cybersecurity, the CISA has programs dedicated to sharing information with local and state governments as well as partners in the private sector. In addition, DHS provides access to cybersecurity training and workforce development to help build up our strength in the fight against outside infiltration.
At the end of the day, there is no ultimate end goal that dictates elections are secure. Experts should be continually updating their processes and staying aware of possible threats, both internally and externally. The best way to safeguard against these types of attacks is to instill a sense of personal responsibility in each person in the country.
According to Gorbea, big companies like Facebook and Google are making changes to monitor different informational exchanges but really, it is up to the consumer to decide what is real and what is fake. “It’s each and every one of you being more conscious about the information that you’re consuming and where it might come from.”
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