Three months before some U.S. states host primary elections, the Department of Homeland Security has begun offering security clearances to state officials to more easily share classified information as the threat of cyberattacks looms over next year’s polls. The federal government is “clear-eyed” that threats to election systems remain an ongoing concern after Russia’s meddling in the 2016 election, according to Chris Krebs, the DHS senior official performing the duties of under secretary for the National Protection and Programs Directorate. We’re offering security clearances initially to senior election officials, and we’re also exploring additional clearances to other state officials,” Krebs told a House Oversight and Government Reform subcommittee hearing on Wednesday. “These relationships are built and sustained on trust. Breaking that trust will have far-ranging consequences in our ability to collaboratively counter this growing threat.”
Estonia plans to block access to the country’s vaunted online services for 760,000 people from midnight on Friday to fix a security flaw in some of the Baltic country’s identity smartcards that was identified earlier this year. Estonia is seen as a leader in providing government services online and has championed the issue within the European Union in recent years, and the security issue leaves it with its much-touted digital IDs in an awkward position. A nation-wide online identity system allows citizens access to most government and private company services via the web, including banking, school reports, health and pension records, medical prescriptions and voting in government elections. But Estonia’s online ID service ran afoul of an encryption vulnerability identified by researchers earlier this year that exposes smartcards, security tokens and other secure hardware chips made by the German company Infineon.
Congress is back in Washington, D.C., this week to tackle a to-do list so packed it unfurls all the way down to the Anacostia River. Lawmakers aren’t only expected to focus on taxes, the budget, the debt ceiling and other such priorities. They also could begin paying attention to the potential threats against elections next year or in 2020.
The Homeland Security Department may not wait for a legislative push before starting a bug bounty program, Secretary John Kelly told lawmakers Tuesday. Bug bounties are cash rewards organizations offer to ethical hackers who spot exploitable flaws in their systems. They’re common at major tech companies and have been done in pilot form at the Defense Department and several of the military services. … During Tuesday’s hearing, Kelly also told lawmakers he may reconsider a decision made late in the Obama administration to designate state and local election systems as critical infrastructure. Critical infrastructure is an official DHS designation that makes it easier for the department to provide resources and other aid. Kelly signaled early in his term he supported the designation. He may reconsider the designation, though, in light of “a large amount of pushback” from state-level officials and some members of Congress, he said. State officials consider the designation a federal power grab and worry it could undermine the nonpartisan image of election contests. The National Association of Secretaries of State called on DHS to rescind the designation in February.
National: Rep. Adam Schiff says alleged Russian meddling in election was an effort to destroy American democracy | Los Angeles Times
Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Burbank) said Tuesday that the alleged Russian meddling in last year’s presidential election was about far more than favoring one candidate over another. He said it was an effort to undermine the foundation of American democracy in order to prop up an authoritarian regime in Moscow. “Now if you look at this as just a one-off intervention, you might be inclined to dismiss the greater significance of it, or if you listen to the president, you might be inclined to dismiss this as simply efforts to relitigate a lost election,” Schiff told several hundred people at UC Irvine. “But the significance is really far greater. Quite separate and apart from the desire of the Russians to help Donald Trump and hurt Hillary Clinton was a more fundamental objective, and that was really to tear down at our democracy.”
National: Top Democratic National Committee officials resign in wake of email breach | The Washington Post
Three top officials at the Democratic National Committee will leave their posts this week amid the controversy over the release of a cache of hacked emails from the committee. Chief executive Amy Dacey, Chief Financial Officer Brad Marshall and Communications Director Luis Miranda will leave the DNC just days after a new leader took the helm. A trove of nearly 20,000 emails were posted on WikiLeaks last month. They included some emails that raised questions about the faith of Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton’s primary rival, Sen. Bernie Sanders (Vt.), and others that seemed to disparage donors.