Cyber security election experts say some Minnesota counties are not doing enough to protect their systems from hackers. A simple security measure of two-factor authentication used to protect emails, bank accounts and social media pages could help safeguard county computers from potential hacker stealing login information. Those experts say this is so important because this closely watched mid-term election is a prime target for hackers trying to disrupt the democratic process at all levels. “In 2016, we saw similar attacks and attempts to steal information log-in credentials and (that) might be valuable to someone who wants to influence the election,” said Reed Southard, a Harvard University researcher.
Southard worked with a team at Harvard Kennedy School’s Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs to create “The State and Local Election Cybersecurity Playbook” that provided advice on how to safeguard systems from digital attacks.
“Two- factor authentication is one of the most important things election officials can do to secure their systems, and also one of the easiest things to implement,” said Southard. “We know people have been targeted down at this level–so the threat is very real.”
Two-factor authentication normally requires a user to type in their login name and password into a computer, and then a special code is generated and sent to a separate device. That code is then typed into the computer before it finally verifies an identity.