The U.S. Secretary of Homeland Security Jeh Johnson told reporters Wednesday that the election process should be considered a “critical infrastructure” in order enable the federal government enhance the voting system’s security and shield it from hacking attempts.
Johnson’s statement was a reply to a journalist’s question about the security of electronic voting equipment in the November elections. Currently, over 9,000 jurisdictions across the nation are in charge with tallying Americans’ votes.
The DHS official said that the agency was “actively” thinking about the cybersecurity of the voting system. If the system is considered a “critical infrastructure” the department will be given the green light to beef up its cyber protections and make it a number 1 priority.
In the agency’s view, critical infrastructures are systems considered to be “so vital” to the nation that any attempt to compromise or destroy them would negatively affect the U.S.’ economic security, safety and public health.
In the U.S. there are just 16 critical infrastructures including the energy sector, transportation services, nuclear plants, the defense industry, chemical industry, the financial sector and communications.
Johnson added that America should “carefully consider” whether it is appropriate to add the election process to the list. He unveiled that the department is in talks with election officials at both state and local levels to make sure that the voting system in their jurisdiction is protected.
The official also said that more money should be put into boosting the cybersecurity of the voting system.
At the conference, journalists expressed their concerns about the security of the electronic voting system during the incoming congressional and presidential elections in the aftermath of the cyberattack that compromised the Democratic National Committee’s servers.
The DHS declined to confirm rumors that Russia was behind the attack. Johnsons said that for the moment the department is not prepared to put the blame on any state. Nevertheless, the attack is currently thoroughly investigated by the FBI.
The National Association of Secretaries (NASS) announced that national security agents haven’t briefed the association about any “credible threats” that may compromise the U.S. election process. The NASS believes that decentralization is a big obstacle in the way of cyber attackers.
Additionally, the NASS insisted to underline that local and state voting systems are not connected to the Internet.
“They are closed systems,”
a spokesperson for the NASS said.
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