Every year, DEFCON convenes thousands of hackers who attempt to breach the security of important technologies in an effort to expose vulnerabilities. For the past two years, this has included voting machines in a room dubbed the “Voting Village.” Rather than watch from the sidelines, or read about the findings in the news, I wanted to see for myself. So, I went to DEFCON. I listened, I observed and I had the opportunity to address attendees. While it’s important to constantly search for and understand the vulnerabilities of any voting system, a unifying message at the conference — from hackers to elections officials alike — is that we must be on alert and Congress must invest more to better secure our elections. Threats to the integrity of our elections are constantly evolving. Not too long ago, a primary focus for election officials was securing voting machines. Today, cyberattack vectors have expanded — and so must our defenses.
This includes protecting our state voter registration databases, county election management systems, election night reporting websites, state and local government social media accounts and ensuring the information voters consume is accurate.
Intelligence officials tell us that the “warning lights are blinking red” — and our adversaries are getting more sophisticated. It’s clear to me, as California’s chief elections official, that we cannot become complacent.