National: CISA’s political independence from Trump will be an Election Day asset | Joseph Marks/The Washington Post

During four years in which government agencies have been increasingly manipulated to serve President Trump’s aims, the agency tasked with protecting the 2020 election against hacking has managed to steer clear of partisan politics. That straight and narrow path has allowed the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency to become a trusted hub of election security expertise for red and blue states, which have cooperated with CISA to fundamentally revamp their election cybersecurity protections during the past four years. The agency’s apolitical track record will also be vital on Election Day and afterwards, when CISA plans to run a virtual war room, delivering trusted information about election threats to thousands of state and local officials, political parties, social media companies and others, orchestrating the response to interference from Russia and elsewhere and tamping down unvetted rumors about interference that threaten to sow panic and distrust in the election results. “The folks at CISA continue to just play it straight and call it as they see it,” Suzanne Spaulding, who led a precursor of CISA called the National Protection and Programs Directorate during the Obama administration, told me.

Full Article: The Cybersecurity 202: CISA’s political independence from Trump will be an Election Day asset – The Washington Post

National: States Expand Internet Voting Experiments Amid Pandemic, Raising Security | Miles Parks/NPR

Election officials nationwide are preparing for what may the highest election turnout in modern history in the middle of a pandemic. In response, several states will be turning to a relatively new and untested form of internet-based voting to aid the voters who may have the most trouble getting to the polls. In the latest demonstration of the technology, Delaware will allow voters with disabilities to return their ballots electronically in its primary election next month, becoming the second U.S. state to do so. The decision comes despite grave warnings from the cybersecurity community that the technology doesn’t offer sufficient safeguards to protect the integrity of an election. NPR is the first to report the development, which has yet to be announced publicly. Both the state, and the Seattle-based company administering the technology, Democracy Live, confirmed the decision, although they dispute the term “internet voting” for the cloud-based system. Earlier this year, West Virginia passed a bill to allow the use of the technology for disabled voters, after becoming the first state to allow overseas and military voters to use an app to vote in the 2018 midterms. Delaware will also allow overseas and military voters to use the technology.

China: Telegram traces cyber-attack during Hong Kong protests to China | AFP

Encrypted messaging service Telegram suffered a major cyber-attack that originated from China, the company’s CEO said Thursday, linking it to the ongoing political unrest in Hong Kong. Many protesters in the city have used Telegram to evade electronic surveillance and coordinate their demonstrations against a controversial Beijing-backed plan that would allow extraditions from the semi-autonomous territory to the mainland. Demonstrations descended into violence Wednesday as police used tear gas and rubber bullets to disperse protesters who tried to storm the city’s parliament — the worst political crisis Hong Kong has seen since its 1997 handover from Britain to China. Telegram announced Wednesday that it was suffering a “powerful” Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attack, which involves a hacker overwhelming a target’s servers by making a massive number of junk requests. It warned that users in many regions may face connection issues.

National: Elections security: Federal help or power grab? | Politico

The federal government wants to help states keep hackers from manipulating the November election, amid growing fears that the U.S. political system is vulnerable. But Georgia’s top election official is balking at the offers of assistance — and accusing the Obama administration of using exaggerated warnings of cyberthreats to intrude on states’ authority. Georgia Secretary of State Brian Kemp’s objections add to a bumpy start for the Department of Homeland Security’s attempt to shore up safeguards for the election, during a summer when cyberattacks on the Democratic National Committee have called attention to weaknesses across the electoral system. Cybersecurity experts call tougher protections long overdue for parties, political advocacy groups and voting machinery, but DHS’ efforts risk becoming caught in the same partisan arguments about state sovereignty that have hung up programs such as President Barack Obama’s Medicaid expansion. “It seems like now it’s just the D.C. media and the bureaucrats, because of the DNC getting hacked — they now think our whole system is on the verge of disaster because some Russian’s going to tap into the voting system,” Kemp, a Republican, told POLITICO in an interview. “And that’s just not — I mean, anything is possible, but it is not probable at all, the way our systems are set up.”