US Elections 2020: Election officials wary of possible cyber threat

ANI
·3-min read
Americans cast their votes on November 3 to elect their next president. (Photo credit: Reuters)
Americans cast their votes on November 3 to elect their next president. (Photo credit: Reuters)

Washington [US], November 5 (ANI): Fearing a repetition of 2016 when the US became a victim of Russian interference, the American election officials are on high alert this year.

According to a report by The Hill, the election officials are cautiously declaring victory after no reports of major cyber incidents on Election Day.

"After millions of Americans voted, we have no evidence any foreign adversary was capable of preventing Americans from voting or changing vote tallies," Christopher Krebs, the director of the Department of Homeland Security's Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA), was quoted as saying in a statement Wednesday.

The Hill further reported that the election officials at all levels of government have been hyper-focused on the security of the voting process since 2016, when the nation was caught off-guard by a sweeping and sophisticated Russian interference effort that included targeting election infrastructure in all 50 states, with Russian hackers gaining access to voter registration systems in Florida and Illinois.

"I think while it's fantastic that yesterday was quiet, that tells you that the work is paying off. But we know the nature of the threats in the cybersecurity landscape don't go away, and you don't get to say, 'Oh, we're good.' You see the commitment and the effort and that has to continue," Election Assistance Commission Chairman Benjamin Hovland, who was nominated by President Trump, told The Hill.

In 2018, President Donald Trump had signed a law legislation creating CISA, which has now become the main agency coordinating with state and local election officials on security issues.

"It's like night and day....In 2016 the level of coordination was almost non-existent except in the immediate run-up to the election," said Edgardo Cortes, who served as the Virginia commissioner of elections four years ago.

Cortes further said, "The election yesterday went very well, the lead-up to yesterday and yesterday itself went very well, and I think it's a reflection of the ongoing effort that state and local election officials have put into election security, and the coordination that has developed at all levels of government."

Ahead of the 2020 US Presidential elections, the CISA had established a 24/7 operations center to help coordinate with state and local officials, along with social media companies, election machine vendors and other stakeholders, The Hill reported.

However, the threat of foreign interference still looms.

Quoting a senior CISA official, The Hill said the agency was watching for threats including disinformation, the defacement of election websites, distributed denial of service attacks on election systems and increased demand on vote reporting sites taking systems offline.

"The attack surface for disinformation and other foreign interference efforts extends well into the next month or two," the official said.

"There is no spiking the football here. We are acutely focused on the mission at hand. We are aggressively looking for any activity that could interfere with the election, and that is going to be our mission for the foreseeable future," the official added.

Americans cast their votes on November 3 to elect the next president of the world's oldest democracy. As part of the New York Times tally, Joe Biden is edging towards a victory over incumbent President Donald Trump in the fierce battle of the US Presidential elections with 253 projected Electoral College votes. (ANI)