33 states asked DHS for election cybersecurity help
- The Department of Homeland Security says 33 states and 11 county and local election agencies requested help to secure their voter registration systems ahead of the general election next month, according to a report from The Hill.
- The agency offered to help states after reports surfaced that hackers broke into the Arizona and Illinois voter registration systems earlier this year.
- Last week, DHS blamed the Russian government for recent email compromises and hacks on political organizations.
The breaches uncovered so far affected voter registration systems only. Officials and cybersecurity experts agree it would be difficult for hackers to alter an election's outcome because voting systems are rarely connected to the internet.
In light of growing cybersecurity concerns, lawmakers have contemplated how to bolster the mishmash of election systems used throughout the country. Last month, Rep. Henry Johnson, D-GA, introduced the Election Infrastructure and Security Promotion Act of 2016, which would require DHS to designate voting systems as critical infrastructure. He also proposed the Election Integrity Act of 2016, which would limit the purchase of new voting systems that do not provide durable voter-verified paper ballots. Neither measure will pass before this election.
Attention toward cybersecurity is reaching a fever pitch, particularly in anticipation of the coming election. As more concerns surface, legislators are paying more attention and could move to legislate for increased cyber defense in the coming year. Businesses, too, should work to sharpen defenses. Though government institutions have been high-profile targets recently, enterprises could also be a target.