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Cybercrime Experts Warn Of Security Threats To 2024 Elections

Some top cybersecurity leaders are warning state and local election officials of foreign and domestic national security threats to election systems, urging them to upgrade their defenses ahead of next year’s presidential election, reports Stateline. Federal officials warned gatherings of the National Association of Secretaries of State and the National Association of State Election Directors that they must be vigilant in securing their state’s elections systems and building resilience to prevent attacks. Many election officials left the field after President Trump’s loss in 2020. In light of that turnover, national security officials emphasized that local election officials can use federal resources to build defenses and educate front-line staff. Although foreign cyberattacks did not disrupt November’s midterm elections, China, Iran, North Korea and Russia remain threats to U.S. election systems, said Cynthia Kaiser of the FBI’s Cyber Division. A year into Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, national security officials remain concerned Russia may attack critical U.S. infrastructure, including elections, said Jen Easterly of the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA).

To run safe and secure elections, Easterly recommended that state and local election officials train staff to use multi-factor authentication and to avoid clicking on suspicious email links. She advised them to replace outdated software and use available federal resources. Foreign governments were active up to the day of the 2022 elections. Foreign actors scanned state and local government websites, even though election systems weren’t targeted. While scanning a system doesn’t necessarily compromise it, Easterly said, it could represent preparation for a future attack. Local election offices can be “target-rich, cyber-poor” entities, she said, warning that cybersecurity still is not a top priority for many small- and medium-sized jurisdictions. National security officials stressed the importance of protecting the physical security of voting system storage locations and election offices by, for example, using locks that only a limited number of people can open. Presidential primaries are less than a year away for many states.


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