This week, the United States Senate Select Committee on Intelligence released a report on Russian interference in the 2016 U-S election. The report says in part, “Intelligence developed later in 2018 bolstered Mr. Daniel’s assessment that all 50 states were targeted.” Other portions of the report also state that Russian IP addresses and actors are believed to have researched or visited election websites and databases in all 50 states. So we asked the South Carolina Election Commission for a response. “The state Election Commission understands that what we do as a state agency to secure South Carolina’s election infrastructure has an impact on national security. Whether we were targeted or not doesn’t change what we do. We take election security seriously whether we’re targeted or not. So, we’re taking all reasonable measures to secure our state’s election infrastructure,” said spokesman Chris Whitmire.
Whitmire continued that originally South Carolina was not one of the 21 states federal officials believe were targeted in 2017.
But, more recent information and the Senate report claim Russian actors were potentially searching and gathering information on all 50 states.
Whitmire said South Carolina was already prepared.
“Firewalls, intrusion protection systems, network sensors, 24-7 monitoring, data-encryption, incident-reporting, making sure that software is patched and updated appropriately. We use two-factor authentication, user password strength requirements, user password expiration requirements. So, these are all tools in our toolbox that we’ve applied to all our various systems that we’re protecting,” Whitmire explained.
South Carolina uses other security software and protocols, which the Election Commission said they could not disclose publicly.
The state also takes advantage of Department of Homeland Security programs like cyber-hygiene scanning and its physical security assessment program at the county and state level.
Whitmire said DHS assessments have already led to security improvements across the state, along with private security firm assessments.
Not to mention, the state recently upgraded its voting equipment, which was another suggestion from the Senate report.
“The new voting system is paper based, has a paper component, has a paper record of every ballot that was cast in an election. That adds an additional layer of security to our voting system. So, now we have a paper record that we can go back and audit,” Whitmire explained.
The new voting machines will be used state wide after January 1st.
Whitmire continued that since election equipment and processes were classified as ‘critical infrastructure’ by DHS, they now have access to a wide variety of federal resources and support.