For years, cybersecurity was considered an issue for IT teams and was often not prioritized when creating and executing policy. However, recent events have demonstrated the many ways that cyberattacks can impact a country’s critical infrastructure, bringing essential operations to a halt and even endangering citizens. These attacks have come in the form of ransomware at schools and hospitals, data breaches at major financial institutions and large-scale distributed denial-of-service attacks that have knocked organizations of all types offline. As a result, politicians and government bodies have come to recognize the critical importance of cybersecurity in protecting national infrastructure. As digital transformation increases technology use across public infrastructure, the attack surface continues to grow. Government CIOs and IT teams are working to deploy security measures that enable transformation, rather than slow it down. For instance, Fortinet’s latest Global Threat Landscape Report found that government agencies use, on average, 255 different applications a day on their networks.
Legislators and governing bodies have responded by issuing new regulations and introducing bills over the past several years that provide additional guidelines to enhance security and modernize technology across critical sectors. Funding and prioritizing these efforts, however, continues to be a challenge as technology growth and change progress at unprecedented speed.
While federal, state and local entities race to secure increasingly vulnerable critical infrastructure, cybercriminals have also taken up a new target: voting systems. Reports that cybercriminals tampered with the 2016 election results have led to discussions about how to secure voting in districts across the country, especially as they increasingly transition to digital processes. Complicating this challenge further, U.S. voting procedures are controlled at the state level, meaning each state can choose how to collect, process and audit its data. As a result, no blanket regulation or update can improve voter security across the nation.