With the 2016 elections just seven weeks away, state and local governments continue to work with the Department of Homeland Security to scan for vulnerabilities in voting and voter registration systems. DHS’s Andy Ozment, however, contends that the real emphasis should be elsewhere. “That’s a conversation that we’re having with state and local governments,” said Ozment, DHS’s assistant secretary of cybersecurity and communications, at a Sept. 20 event. “It’s an important conversation, but it’s not the conversation that should be the focus of our time right now.” …Ozment, who took part in a Washington, D.C., panel discussion hosted by the nonprofit organization Center Forward, said there was no timeline for a final decision on the critical infrastructure designation. He also voiced confidence in the system’s overall resiliency as Election Day approaches and urged a longer term view.
“We have an incredibly distributed election system,” Ozment said. “We have thousands of state and local governments who are responsible for voting in their jurisdiction. That makes it a robust system.” He added that few actual voting systems were connected to the internet, while acknowledging that voter registration systems and databases might have more online exposure.
“We should absolutely be focused on cybersecurity for that system,” he said, but it’s more important “to take the focus that we’ve got and — particularly as we upgrade these systems over the next four years — make sure that we build cybersecurity in from the get-go.”