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DHS Cyber Chief: No Evidence of Midterm Election Hacks – So Far

In a wide-ranging interview with CNET, published Feb. 23, Homeland Security Department cybersecurity chief Jeanette Manfra said she has not seen evidence of midterm election system attacks.

“The intelligence community has said we have every reason to expect that this foreign influence activity will continue, but we don’t see any specific credible threat or targeting of election infrastructure,” said Manfra, who is National Protection and Programs Directorate assistant secretary for the Office of Cybersecurity and Communications at Homeland Security.

In January 2017, then-Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson declared the election system to be part of the nation’s critical infrastructure like the power grid. As a result, protecting elections is now an official duty of DHS.

Only 32 states, along with 31 local governments, have sought DHS’ most basic level of cybersecurity help so far, Manfra told CNET. DHS will complete 14 deeper assessments by the end of April. DHS performs risk and vulnerability assessments, which take about three weeks. DHS it offers programs to help state and local governments protect voting machines, voter registration databases and election websites, CNET reported.

“They lay out for us what their networks, what their systems look like,” Manfra said. “We try a variety of different things and identify where we saw some potential issues, some recommended mitigations, and we often times will talk through with them if they have any questions.”

She also told CNET that she did not believe returning to paper ballots will secure the voting system. “I couldn’t say that that will just unilaterally remove all risk. Particularly because if you have an adversary whose goal is to just create confusion, and undermine confidence, it wouldn’t necessarily matter.”

Read more at CNET.

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The Government Technology & Services Coalition's Homeland Security Today (HSToday) is the premier news and information resource for the homeland security community, dedicated to elevating the discussions and insights that can support a safe and secure nation. A non-profit magazine and media platform, HSToday provides readers with the whole story, placing facts and comments in context to inform debate and drive realistic solutions to some of the nation’s most vexing security challenges.

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