Keeping US elections safe from hackers (The Hill)


    Keeping US elections safe from hackers – By Maggie Miller (The Hill) / Jan 14 2020

    Robert Mueller’s former chief of staff from his time at the FBI says Washington isn’t doing nearly enough to secure U.S. election systems in the wake of the special counsel report on Russian interference in 2016.

    John Carlin, who now chairs the law firm Morrison & Foerster’s global risk and crisis management group and co-chairs its national security practice group, told The Hill in a recent interview that foreign threats against elections are “here and present,” adding that he “absolutely” expects Moscow to attempt to interfere in this year’s vote.

    “The overall message that the seriousness of what they found in terms of the Russian government interfering in our elections in a sweeping and systematic action, you would hope that this is the type of report that would drive in a bipartisan way all Americans to see what we can do to prevent it from occurring again,” said Carlin. “I wish there would be more of a bipartisan focus on what Russia did and holding them [to] account.”

    Carlin noted that while “there have been improvements” from the federal government to address election security concerns — most notably $425 million Congress designated to states for election security as part of the recent appropriations cycle — the ongoing “plague” of ransomware attacks poses a new threat.

    “The two are linked when you see the disruption of services caused in some of the ransomware attacks,” Carlin said of ransomware strikes, which involve an attacker locking a system and demanding money to unencrypt it. “If you had someone who wasn’t doing it for money but was doing it to cause maximum disruption around Election Day, I guess you have the two issues marry up.”

    Carlin is calling for all 50 states to move to voting systems with paper ballot backups, which multiple ones do not currently use, and also for keeping one eye on the horizon in terms of addressing future threats to elections, such as ongoing disinformation campaigns on social media.

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