When the Homeland Security Department alerted state governments about Russian attempts to probe their election systems in 2016, it followed an ad hoc, one-size-fits-all process, mostly reaching out through existing cybersecurity relationships with governors’ offices. As a result, the officials running those elections—which are often politically firewalled from governors—were sometimes left in the dark. As the clock counts down to national elections in 2018 and 2020, Homeland Security is taking the opposite approach, asking top election officials in all 50 states how they’d like to communicate about relevant information security information, said Robert Kolasky, acting deputy undersecretary for Homeland Security’s cyber and infrastructure protection division.
The department is prepared to take numerous different routes for that communication depending on what works best for states, Kolasky told a National Academies panel on the future of voting Wednesday.
“At this point, there’s no ‘one way,’” he said, “and if DHS were to suggest one way, we’d be guilty of all the things everyone asked us not to do.”
Kolasky represented Homeland Security at the first meeting of the Government Coordinating Council for the Election Infrastructure Subsector over the weekend.