The US military has launched a 'war of the whole government' against electoral cyber threats

As a result of Russia's courageous efforts to interfere in the last election, federal and state officials have set up what they believe are obstacles to thwarting cyber-attacks ahead of Tuesday's presidential election.


The US military has launched a 'war of the whole government' against electoral cyber threats

Cybersecurity experts, including those authorized to deploy military cyber capabilities, have teamed up to form an "all-government" effort to ensure voters ensure that Donald Trump or Joe Biden win, whether American opponents Sabotage the process. This means that dozens of state, local, federal and private players, consisting of hundreds of people, will be connected’ to the Homeland Security Command Center on election night.


The effort will be’ led by DHS's Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency, also known as the CISA, and includes US Cyber ​​Command, the State Department, the National Security Agency, the FBI and Facebook Inc. and Twitter Inc. Likes will be included. As well as state, county and private sector cyber surveillance teams.


Not only that. Congress has allocated nearly 1 billion to the states to protect the voting system and purchase paper trails - which can be audited’ - for each vote. And both the nonprofit and the private the sector has partnered with a system to detect subsidized malware to track down intruders seeking to disrupt the voting system or create chaos after and after election day.


Whether or not the new defenses are sufficient to prevent national defense hackers from disrupting the election cannot be known’ until days or weeks after the vote. But government officials and cybersecurity experts say they are hopeful that the nation's collective efforts can prevent a major breach.


"In 2016, when I asked government officials if Russia had tried to discredit the election results, they had no answer," said Dmitri Alperovitch, then chief technology officer at cybersecurity company Crude Streak. ۔ ““Now, they have played certain scenarios. At least they thought about it. "


Alperovitch said the initial indications are that cyber barriers are working as planned, at least in the larger jurisdiction with access to the tools needed to monitor their networks. What is less known’ he said, is whether similar security measures have been taken’ in small areas with limited resources.


There is no doubt that opponents of Russia and other nation-states, as well as criminal hackers, are trying to disrupt the election. Iranian hackers are particularly brazen, hacking a state's voter registration database and attempting to do more than that.


Susan Spaulding, a former DHS cybersecurity official in the Obama administration, said the protection of the vote and results reporting system would be necessary to ensure the integrity of the election.


"The CISA has done exactly what it is equipped to do, but the election defense is more than a federal government agency," Spalding said. "We want to see how well the rest of the world has prepared since 2016."


Better cyber defense in many states exemplifies the changes since 2016. For example, the Washington State Defense was tested’ in September when a number of agencies were infected with malware. Officials feared the attack could have implications for the election, and both the federal government and the private sector threw away the kitchen sink. The Washington National Guard's cyber unit was called in’ to help.


Beginning in July, whenever a state's National Guard Cyber ​​Unit is called in’ they carry with them the weight of the US Cyber ​​Command. Janet Welsh, Adjutant General of the Washington National Guard, said the guard's duty in this case was to separate the Secretary of State from the rest of the state and prevent infection in the voting system.


It was critical for the situation to contact the cyber command using an emergency, data sharing channel, the newly established Cyber ​​9 line. It works through secure e-mail that allows participating National Guard units to diagnose a foreign attack and provide rapid mitigation strategies that can be shared’ with the state.


"If you have your phone friend Cyber ​​Command, you can quickly find out what it's popping up in other states and how they're dealing with it," Welsh said. "We have found a way to get sophisticated cyber intelligence to support our own Secretary of State. It's a victory.


Similarly, DHS officials are flying across the country to meet with state and local election officials to be aware of their exposure to cyber-attacks. Ben Spear, director of the Center for Election Infrastructure Information Sharing and Analysis, a non-profit organization affiliated with local elections, said the collapse of the voting system in nearby and small and swing state counties had damaged the legitimacy of the entire election. Can CISA and FBI Administrators


According to a person familiar with the preparations, the DHS's Hi-Tech National Operations Center, located in southeastern Washington DC, will be closely monitored’ for possible issues. The second DHS Command Center in Northern Virginia will oversee specifically cyber-related matters, including the intervention of opponents of the nation-state. The man said it would include extended staff from several US government agencies, as well as telecommunications companies such as Verizon and AT&T.


The US Cyber ​​Command, which controls the government's arsenal of state-of-the-art cyber weapons, will oversee events at the Third Command Center in the Washington, D.C. area.


This does not mean that there are no blind spots.


At least 11 U.S. states, including Michigan, Wisconsin, Florida and Georgia, are still receiving repeated warnings from the DHS that wireless voting will be used’ to transmit illegal, election-night results. Equipment is allowed to be used’ there is a risk of such systems being’ attacked.


"With these systems, there's a lot more risk," said Morris Turner, a senior adviser to the Election System Commission.


As security measures are stepped up’ many experts are betting that the 2020 vote will pass without a dramatic cyber attack on the electoral system.


"There's always background noise, it doesn't stop," said Matthew Prince, chief executive officer of CloudFly Inc., which supports the electoral infrastructure facing the people of 28 states in the 2020 election. "The question we are trying to answer is where there is some systematic approach that is generally undermining the electoral infrastructure, and we are not just looking at it."



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