Protect our Elections
While watching all the testimony on the “Russian interference” in our elections, I get frustrated. No one is talking about the fact that there were attempts to hack into Supervisor of Elections offices nationwide, yet Congress and the state legislatures have failed to act at all by funding the increased security needs to protect the integrity of our national elections.
I had thought that this is something we could all agree on. Republicans, Democrats and Independents. Yet there hasn’t been any action towards funding for such an endeavor.
In Florida specifically there were many attempts across different counties to compromise the network through an email payload.
Election supervisors in Hillsborough, Pasco, Citrus and Clay counties separately told the Herald/Times that their offices got the emails, which contained attachments that could have taken over their computers. But all four said their staffers did not open them. Volusia County said it opened one of the infected emails, but not the attachment that could have compromised its systems. (Miami Herald, June 6, 2017)
Russian hackers tried to break into the computer systems of at least five Florida county elections offices days before…www.miamiherald.com
For the layman, I’ll explain this popular hacking technique. Essentially what happens here is an attachment sent by a spoofed email (which is referred to as a “payload” ) gets activated once it is opened on the computer. It usually has some code that is placed on the computer to allow a hacker to access that computer at a later time.
The report issued by the NSA is very concerning as I think it is just the tip of the iceberg. These hackers who are beginning with hacking our election networks could later graduate into other government entities gaining access to even MORE personal data. People nationwide have already been subject to the constant hits of identity theft and tax refund theft. I anticipate this just getting worse with these increased capabilities and the stealing of personal information. This isn’t happening JUST in Florida…. It’s happening in other states as well.
Election hacking is such a concern that Secretary Jeh Johnson of the Department of Homeland Security designated our “election infrastructure as critical infrastructure.” This commitment was recently reaffirmed by the current Secretary of DHS, John Kelly. What does this mean? Essentially it allows for DHS to expedite assistance in the event they ask for it. Don’t worry, they won’t be taking it over or federalizing the elections…This designation must be in place in order for them to be able to assist the local elections offices.
While condemning the leak, McCaskill said, “we now have, in the public domain, verified information that the Russians made an aggressive attempt to access not only a vendor of voter software in this country, but also a number of states — the voter file databases — in the month prior to our election.”
“Whether or not they accessed the tabulation, it’s clear they were trying to get into voter files. And I don’t think they were going there to try to just hang out,” she said. “I don’t think enough attention has been given to something that is [DHS’s] responsibility … critical infrastructure, including the election systems.”— FCW
While you would think all this discussion of election hacking would spring lawmakers into action, surprisingly they actually voted in committee to disband the only help election officers did get from the federal government by voting to disband the Election Assistance Commission in February 2017. Is this a JOKE??
Rep. Gregg Harper, R-Miss., chairman of the House Administration Committee, said the Election Assistance Commission has “outlived” his usefulness.
“It is time for the EAC to be officially ended,” said Harper. “We don’t need fluff.” — USA Today
The bill is still on hold, however it’s shocking this would even be considered.
We must learn from this attempt to hack our election systems and be proactive and prevent it from happening. We must have our leaders invest into the security of our elections and this costs money. Invest into the security of our vital infrastructure that is open to the threat that comes with being connected to the internet. Invest into the fair operation of elections that ensures that our democracy is protected.
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