With the 2020 election security being the top priority for the National Security Agency and U.S. Cyber Command, it is clear that the stakes are very high this election season. According to a recent study, attackers want to both undermine the integrity of the 2020 election, while also shaking the trust that citizens have in the state Election Boards that manage the election process.
Clearly, leading up to November, election security is a major priority for our nation. Though, what can be done from a security perspective once the elections are over?
According to the third and final episode of the Government Technology Insider podcast series called “Secure and Safe Elections in a Pandemic and Beyond,” there is much to be done post-election. Once again, Al Gietl, Senior Client Executive at Verizon Business Group, and guest Dr. Chase Cunningham, VP, Principal Analyst Serving Security & Risk Professionals at Forrester, shared their insights.
“A critical de-briefing with election officials and technology partners is a key element in the process,” said Gietl. “This includes looking at how well the network performed, what can be changed next time, when these changes will be implemented, and how will they be funded. We can always improve on an election, and this is part of the learning process.”
A key component for planning for the next election season is running simulations and mock elections. “One of the things that should be used is virtualization to do simulated testing to help have things configured correctly,” said Cunningham. “This will help with planning and contingencies, and there are a variety of virtualization methods that can be used to plan for various outcomes.”
Fortunately, there are a variety of funding vehicles available to help enhance election security. “Funding is a big factor when it comes to election security,” added Gietl. “Whether you’re setting up impromptu voting sites or doing a complete overhaul of the infrastructure, it can get real expensive real quick. Luckily the upside to this is that there’s significant federal funding available for states and local agencies to use, and two of the significant grants that can help are through HAVA and CARES Act funding.”
There are a number of resources when it comes to election security, whether for pre-, during- or post-election. “For the HAVA and CARES funding, the Election Assistance Commission has a great website at eac.gov that has all the latest updates on available funds and how to use them, even state by state breakdowns of dollar amounts,” added Gietl. “They also just announced a free online cyber training class for election officials. The National Association of State Secretaries of State (NASS) offers great resources on cybersecurity and other election topics in general.”
Listen to the full conversation with guest Dr. Cunningham and Gietl below. Be sure to listen to part one and part two of our “Secure and Safe Elections in a Pandemic and Beyond” podcast series where these thought leaders address post-election day security strategies for state and local government agencies.