County supervisors of elections in Florida are now citing cybersecurity as their top concern going into the 2018 elections. That follows news last week that Gov. Rick Scott overruled his own elections chief, Sec. of State Ken Detzner, ordering him to use $19 million in federal funds for cybersecurity.
There’s widespread belief among Florida’s representatives at the federal level that election officials are not prepared to counter cyberthreats this election cycle.
Sen. Marco Rubio fears Russian interference in the 2018 election.
President Donald Trump claims Special Counsel Robert Mueller and his team investigating Russian interference in the 2016 election will themselves meddle in the 2018 election.
And even if every county supervisor of elections takes every precaution, there’s still a massive, gaping hole in the country’s cybersecurity — campaigns themselves.
“Elections supervisors have IT deptartments and theoretically are working on security, whereas campaigns and PACs and most advocacy organizations don’t have traditional IT deptartments and haven’t hired security people. At the presidential level they do, but when you get to most statewides and congressionals, they don’t have the infrastucture that would be typical of a corporation, let’s say, and certainly don’t have the training,” said Brian Franklin, a Florida political consultant who co-founded Campaign Defense, a firm that provides basic cybersecurity training. “What we’re seeing out there is that they’re not prepared.”
Elections officials could secure the vote as well as possible and still the actors in electoral politics would remain vulnerable to data theft, ransomware and phishing schemes.
“I know of a few that have been targeted with various schemes to get them to wire money that have thankfully been caught at the last second,” Franklin said. “Everbody thinks it’s not going to happen to them until it happens to them. The grim part is they’re not as a whole taking this seriously enough to make sure that they train their own staffs and hold everybody, including their consultants and staff, responsible for a reasonable level of security.”
Given the heightened fears of a cyberthreat around the coming election, we want to know how concerned you are about the integrity of your vote as well as how confident you are that elections officials and campaigns are taking the threat seriously.
By Dan Sweeney