Amid ongoing investigations into how Russia may have used cyberhacking to influence the 2016 presidential election, the Obama administration added the nation’s elections systems to the list of “critical infrastructure.” The U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s (DHS) decision, which was announced last Friday, is meant to ensure that elections systems — which include voting machines, storage facilities and voter registration databases — are a high priority for federal cybersecurity assistance and protections. The need for heightened safeguards became clear last year when the FBI found that hackers infiltrated voter registration databases in Arizona and Illinois. In both cases, state officials later verified that voter information had not been altered. But in the case of Illinois, a hacker was able to steal personal information from nearly 90,000 voters. The decision to add elections systems to the list has caused confusion and concern among the state and local officials who handle U.S. elections.
In a statement released on Monday, the National Association of Secretaries of State (NASS) said, “While we recognize the need to share information on threats and risk mitigation in our elections at all levels of government, as we did throughout the 2016 cycle, it is unclear why a critical infrastructure classification is now necessary for this purpose.”
David Becker, executive director of the Center for Election Innovation and Research, agrees. “DHS and the federal government absolutely has access to [cybersecurity] resources that a state wouldn’t possess,” he said. “That being said, those were largely already being shared with the states before this designation ever occurred.”
Full Article: New Election Cyberprotections Cause Confusion and Concern.